Riyadh - French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni powered to victory on the fourth and penultimate stage of the Saudi Tour on Friday to claim the race overall lead.
The Arkea-Samsic rider had finished in the top five in each of the first three stages and grabbed a two-second advantage in the general classification from Italian Niccolo Bonifazio.
It was the 29-year-old Bouhanni's first stage win since the sixth stage of the 2018 Vuelta a Espana.
"I needed this victory because otherwise you start to have doubts," he said.
"Today, my teammates did an incredible job. By being led out this way, the only thing I could do was win. Now let's defend the (overall leader's) jersey."
The inaugural edition of the race finishes with a 144km ride around Riyadh on Saturday.
Fourth stage results
1. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/ARK) 137km in 3hr 21min 55sec, 2. Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA/TDE) same time, 3. Yevgeniy Gidich (KAZ/AST) s.t., 4. Damiano Cima (ITA/GAZ) s.t., 5. Ivo Oliveira (POR/UAE) s.t.
1. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/ARK) 14hr 34min 49sec, 2. Phil Bauhaus (GER/BAH) at 02sec, 3. Rui Costa (POR/UAE) 0:05, 4. Youcef Reguigui (ALG/TER) 0:14, 5. Heinrich Haussler (AUS/BAH) 0:15