Peter Sagan consolidated his lead in the Tour of Oman with his second successive stage win on day three as Team Sky rider Chris Froome slipped out of the top 10.
Cannondale rider Sagan finished the 190km route from Nakhal Fort to Wadi Dayqah Dam ahead of BMC's Greg van Avermaet and RadioShack's Tony Gallopin while Alberto Contador was fourth.
Froome was guided into a good position by his team-mates before a short, sharp ascent in the closing stages saw him drop back to finish both 13th for the day and overall.
Team Sky's Sir Bradley Wiggins was dropped by Sagan in the race to the line along with Tom Boonen and Matt Goss with Froome finishing 36 seconds behind Sagan, who increased his lead over Gallopin to 16 seconds.
Despite falling seven places in the standings, Team Sky Sports Director Nicolas Portal thinks tomorrow's summit finish could make it the decisive stage for Froome and expects him to be right back in contention.
He told http://www.teamsky.com: "Tomorrow's stage is the one that is going to decide the race, not today.
"Green Mountain is six kilometres long and maintains an average gradient of between 10-11%. That's going to suit Froomey and the plan will be to get him into the best possible position leading into the climb and before pacing him up it to the best of our ability.
"It's never nice to drop out of the top 10 but it's tomorrow's stage which is going to prove pivotal and Froomey is in a great position heading into it.
"The team are in really good form so we're looking forward to a big day, but Sagan is such a strong rider and the likes of Contador and (Vincenzo) Nibali are all up there as well, so we're not going to have it all our own way. It's going to be another exciting day."
The 152.5km fourth stage starts in Samail and will finish halfway up Jabal Al Akhdhar, also known as 'Green Mountain'.