Back-to-form Serge Pauwels led home Team Sky in 20th position behind Matthew Goss in the 74th edition of the GP Ouest France-Plouay in Brittany.
Belgian Pauwels endured a tough Tour de France but, back to full health, he showed up well at this week's Tour du Limousin.
And he continued the good work in Brittany as he finished in the front group at the end of the 248.3 kilometres test, around 13 laps of a 19.1km circuit.
The final breakaway rider was caught with 5km remaining and that sparked a flurry of attacks, the first sustained one coming from Davide Appollonio (Cervélo), fresh from his victory in Friday's final stage at the Tour du Limousin.
However he was overhauled by another in-form rider in the shape of Garmin's Dan Martin, the overall winner of the recent Tour of Poland and this week's Tre Valli Varesine, who tried to kick clear on the closing climb up Ty-Marrec.
He just about made it to the flamme rouge but by that point it was clear the 60 or so riders who remained in the front group were going to contest a sprint finish.
And it was HTC-Columbia's Goss who proved much the strongest as he won by a couple of bike lengths from Tyler Farrar (Garmin) and Yoann Offredo (FDJ).
Pauwels was the only Team Sky man in the front group, Russell Downing left to rue his luck after he was caught behind a late crash having been in the leading bunch the whole day.
Downing came home 57 seconds adrift and the group 1:40 back contained Morris Possoni, 2009 winner Simon Gerrans, Steve Cummings and Bradley Wiggins, the last two having their first outing since the Tour de France.
Sports Director Marcus Ljungvist gave us his reaction afterwards, saying: "It's good to see Serge back on track. Limousin was a good race for him and today as well.
"Unfortunately Russell got stopped by a crash in front of him on that last lap which is a shame because he was feeling good and would have liked to contest the sprint, but that's bike racing.
"Bradley and Steve were having their first race since the Tour so they were decent performances from them while Simon is getting better and better so hopefully for the Vuelta we'll see him right back to his best."