Thomas Löfkvist finished 10th at Gran Piemonte after imposing his will on the race in the closing stages.
The Swede went on the attack to cause a pivotal selection in the closing stages as a breakaway were able to contest the finish in Novi Ligure.
Löfkvist and Michael Rogers put themselves in a strong position mid-race as they infiltrated a 30-man group which was allowed to build up an unassailable lead of over eight minutes.
With a number of dangerous sprinters sitting in the move Löfkvist put the power down in a bid to improve the odds, splitting the bunch in half in an impressive show of strength.
At the finish that effort inevitably told with Daniel Moreno unleashing a surprising turn of pace to take victory.
The Spaniard held off the attentions of Paris-Tours victor Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Katusha team-mate Luca Paolini to secure his third win of the season.
199 tough kilometres lay ahead as the riders rolled out of Piasco in what was for many the penultimate race of the season.
After an expected flurry of early attacks the dangerous move finally pulled clear; the star-studded selection including the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek), Van Avermaet and Moreno.
With so many teams represented in the move there was an inevitable slowing in the bunch as the pattern for the race was set.
One significant absentee from the move was two-time race winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), the Belgian missing out on the key move to be denied the chance of three consecutive wins.
The pre-race build-up suggesting a battle between Gilbert and newly-crowned world champion Mark Cavendish proved wide of the mark with the HTC-Highroad rider among a number of men to abandon the race part way through.
With any form of catch looking futile there was no surprise to see riders attacking out of the bunch; seven men combining in a brave yet unsuccessful bid to bridge across to the decisive move as the race entered its closing stages.
At the finale on the twisting streets of Novi Ligure it was Moreno who struck the hammer blow, throwing his name into the hat as attention now turns to the season-ending Giro di Lombardia on Saturday.
End in sight
After the race we caught up with Sports Director Sean Yates for the lowdown on a tough race and the last chance to fine tune the team ahead of the final monument of the season.
He said: “The plan was for the guys to do what they felt was right for their performance in Lombardy. It was about getting out there and turning the legs and sweating a bit.
“As it happened Mick got in that early break and a few guys bridged across. Thomas came across with some guys and that formed that large 30-man group.
“So after that it was game over for the rest of the peloton. Heading into the final Thomas put in the first attack from that group which split it in half basically. So there were 14 guys at the end heading into the finale. Thomas attacked again on the little climb at the end. It dropped down into the finish and it was a case of who was first through the corner got the win.
“Mick had a bit of an upset stomach which meant he wasn’t at his best so he was in the second half of that split. Thomas got tenth and is going well so it is all looking good ahead of Saturday.”
Yates believes the squad are in good shape after a run of races in Italy which bodes well for the WorldTour decider in Italy.
He added: “Steve and Dario had just stepped off the plane from Beijing so for them it was about just getting the travel out of their legs. They will be good for Saturday.
“All in all the condition of the guys was encouraging when you look at some of the other teams who were struggling a bit today and out the back on some of the climbs.
“We’ve got some good riders and a very good team for Saturday which is our season-ending objective so fingers crossed for that.”