Team Sky regrouped well after Ben Swift's earlier withdrawal as Ian Stannard sprinted to sixth place on stage one of the Tour of Luxembourg.
Swift had felt strong at the start of the day but was forced to abandon the race towards the end of the stage after experiencing muscle pains in his back. After hearing the news Stannard volunteered to head the lead-out in place of his team-mate and was only narrowly beaten by eventual stage winner Giovanni Visconti.
ISD-Neri rider Visconti outsprinted Yauheni Hutarovich (Française des Jeux) and Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) at the line for the victory.
Stannard's performance catapulted him to the top of the young rider standings while teammates Juan Antonio Flecha, Serge Pauwels, Thomas Löfkvist and Simon Gerrans also finished in the front group and were credited with the same time.
It means Flecha is ninth in the general classification while while Gerrans is in 16th.
Stannard steps up
We caught up with Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist shortly afterwards and he explained what had happened to Swift, saying: "Ben started to feel problems midway through the stage but his back really went bad when we hit a cobbled climb towards the end. With the help he will receive from our medical team I think he will be back soon though.
"It was too bad because his legs were feeling great, but his back just locked up."
Ljungqvist was full of praise for the way Stannard and his team-mates responded to the situation, adding: "It was great to see Ian put his hand up for the sprint and he did good to get us a little result.
"ISD-Neri had led the peloton early on but ourselves and RadioShack then joined forces to bring the breakaway back so the guys did a really good job throughout the whole day before then helping Ian out at the end."
Lemoine in yellow
Saur-Sojasun's Cyril Lemoine was celebrating a job well done as it was he who rose to the top of the GC after also finishing inside the front pack.
The Frenchman has the same overall time as Grégory Rast (RadioShack), with Lance Armstrong just one second adrift of his team-mate in third. Overnight leader Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) dropped to 60th overall after crossing the line 39 seconds behind his rivals.
The sunny conditions which greeted the riders in the prologue continued into Thursday and Anthony Charteau (Bbox-Bouygues), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) and Morten Knudsen (Differdange) brought the stage to life early on when they wrestled themselves clear of the pack.
The trio stayed out front for most of the day with Charteau earning maximum points on the three classified climbs.
Their advantage had peaked at six minutes with just over 50km of the stage to go but Team Sky and RadioShack cut the lead back to just over a minute by the time they hit the first of two final laps around the destination town.
The threesome were finally reeled in with 10km to go and from then on it was full speed ahead to the finish line where Visconti kicked late to triumph by a bike length.
Friday is the longest stage of the week as the riders cover 202.7km from Schifflange to Differdange and Ljungqvist said: "It's going to be much harder than today, with plenty of climbing to come so we'll see how things pan out and take it from there."