Sky's Boasson Hagen poised for two crucial days in Oman
Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tour of Oman 2011, stage one
Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen is poised for an attack on the overall of the Tour of Oman in the uphill mountain stage four and the time trial after the race's third bunch sprint on Thursday.
Boasson Hagen came close to victory last year (2010) but lost the overall after he stopped to answer a call of nature just as the race was entering a crucial moment.
This year, the Norwegian is 10 seconds adrift of leader Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) in the overall classification after three stages - within striking distance of the top spot.
Sky did not shirk their responsibilities during the stage, with Kurt Asle Arvesen on the front for most of the day helping HTC-Columbia and Leopard-Trek keep the break of five at a respectable distance.
The British team started a man down, though, after Jeremy Hunt did not start the stage because of a bad cold. Apart from two punctures, the most serious incident for Sky probably happened when a plastic bag got caught in Russell Downing's rear mech and he had a long battle to get back into the bunch.
A Sky mechanic tries to retrieve the plastic bag from Downing's rear mech
Goss remains in the overall lead of the Tour of Oman for the second consecutive day after a chaotic final bunch sprint in which he placd third.
"The guys did an awesome job working through the day for me, but It was pretty crazy out there at the end," Goss said.
"The sprint was all messed up, Browny [Graeme Brown - Rabobank] took a few guys out there I think and caused a bit of carnage, it stuffed things up a bit."
"Still, I got third and managed to hold on to the lead for another day."
"We've already had one stage win, but another one today would have been ideal," HTC-Highroad director Valerio Piva said.
"it's not going to be possible to hold it tomorrow with Goss, but we've got some other options up our sleeve for the GC, and there's still a bunch sprint at the last stage which could be another opportunity."
Tour of Oman 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index