Comfort break led to all-out attack to the finish line

A pee break cost Team Sky rider Edvald Boasson Hagen his team's dominance of the Tour of Oman, leading to calls that 'unwritten rules' had been breached.

The Norwegian's 'comfort break' during the fourth stage was immediately followed by an all-out attack by Team Sky's rivals, and although a 50km pursuit ensued, Boasson Hagen was still a good minute behind at the finish.

Leigh Howard of HTC-Columbia notched his first victory as a pro, with Daniele Bennati in second place and Quick-Step's Tom Boonen third.

Bennati now heads the overall standings following the testing 187km route from Ibri to Nakhal.

But even Bennati seemed to suggest that the attack wasn't quite fair. "Racing is racing but perhaps it wasn't fair they attacked when Boasson Hagen stopped," he said.

Team Sky's Mathew Hayman explained: "Towards the end of the route we were defending the jersey and everything looked to be going okay but with 50k to go a group went away.

"We tried to get it back and were chasing all the way to the finish but we are really disappointed because we were looking to hold the overall lead and we thought he [Boasson Hagen] had a good chance of winning here."

When asked if the team felt the attack came during the toilet break, Hayman added: "That's the way we see it but it's racing and there are no rules about that. It's a bit of an unwritten rule as nature calls every now and then but we're just disappointed.

"We regrouped after that, got the whole team together and chased as hard as we could to try and get Edvald back on terms with the leaders but unfortunately we couldn't quite do it.”

The team will now focus their attention on today's penultimate stage, with Hayman explaining: "We're hoping to come back tomorrow to show just how good Edvald is.