(AFP) – Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet prevailed in a sprint to win the 194 kilometre Tour of Valencia third stage on Friday with Edvald Boasson Hagen retaining the overall lead.
The Olympic champion denied second stage winner Matteo Trentin at the end of the ride from Quart de Poblet to Chera, with local hope Leon Sanchez in third.
Norwegian Boasson Hagen finished in 14th in the same time of five hours 16sec.
Van Avermaet said: "It's always great to start the season off with a win.
"The team (CCC) did a really good effort on the climb before so it was down to me to do a good result. I was in a really good position on the last switchback, it was perfect and I started my sprint and hoped nobody came round me."
A 10-man breakaway built up a four minute lead during the day, with this group caught inside the final 10km.
In the narrow streets of the hilltop finish Sanchez made a bid for victory but Van Avermaet was tracking him and surged past at the line.
In the general classification Boasson Hagen has a slender five second cushion from Astana's Ion Izagirre.
Breathing down their necks are Alejandro Valverde, 14sec back in sixth, and Ireland's Dan Martin, 19s off the lead in seventh.
Saturday's penultimate fourth stage is a 188km ride from Vila-Real to Alcala-Alcocebre.