A bunch sprint allowed David Lopez to maintain his fourth place foothold ahead of the upcoming queen stage at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
The Spaniard negotiated a technical finish to stage three alongside his Team Sky colleagues in Riba, finishing inside the bunch to pick up the same time as the stage winner.
The duel for victory came down to Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis). In the bike-throw for the line it was the Dane Nielsen who prevailed, picking up his first win of the year.
Michal Kwiatkowski and Wout Poels were the first men home for Team Sky, crossing the line 16th and 17th respectively. Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) retained the yellow jersey, now 28 seconds up on Lopez.
Attention now turns to Saturday's queen stage, which features a first-category summit finish to Llucena. In the GC mix Kwiatkowski and Poels both sit 58 seconds behind Van Avermaet, with Phil Deignan a further seven seconds back.
Stage three results:
1. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott) 3:49:02
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) s.t.
3. Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie)
4. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors)
5. Enrique Sanz (Spain)
1. Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) 9:17:13
2. Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) s.t.
3. Manuel Senni (BMC Racing) +7"
4. David Lopez (Team Sky) +28"
5. Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) +44"