Team Sky sprinter Ben Swift was an encouraging seventh on stage two of the Vuelta a España in Marbella.
With help from Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh, 22-year-old Swift worked himself onto the back of the Lampre and Liquigas trains in the closing stages as the 173.7 kilometres stage from Alcalá de Guadaíra boiled down to a bunch sprint.
He had to kick twice but was still finishing fast as he bagged the third Grand Tour top 10 finish of his career.
The stage saw a shock winner in the shape of FDJ rider Yauheni Hutarovich who outsprinted the select trio of Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre).
Things had looked to be going to plan for Cavendish, who was sporting the leader's red jersey after HTC-Columbia's win in the opening team time trial, as the peloton caught the break with just over 10km remaining.
And while the usually-dominant HTC-Columbia lead-out didn't materialise on this occasion, the Manxman had still guided himself into pole position before unleashing his sprint in the closing 300 metres.
However it Belarus rider Hutarovich who produced the decisive kick to cut down Cavendish, Farrar and co to win by nearly half a bike length. Cavendish, who found it hard going coping with the heat earlier in the stage, remains in the lead in the general classification following his second place.
Afterwards we caught up with Swift to get the inside track on how the business end of the stage panned out and he told us: "I felt pretty good all day once I got adjusted to the heat. Pete Kennaugh and Ian Stannard then shepherded me to the finish - they did a really good job helping me stay relaxed and chilled out.
"And then when we needed to we moved up and with about 2km to go I got onto the back of Petacchi's train after a little bit of a battle with Thor Hushovd. But we were right down the centre of the road so we had people coming from both sides. With 1km to go I got onto Hushovd's wheel but he suddenly seemed to sit up so I had to attack and come around the outside to get back to where I wanted to be. As soon as I'd done that the sprint started so I more or less had to do two big efforts back to back.
"That was a bit of a shame because I felt like I had really good legs and, apart from Cav and Hutarovich, I was closing on the others pretty quick at the finish. But that's bike racing."
The performance left Swift in optimistic mood for the rest of the race as he added: "I had a couple of top 10s at the Giro d'Italia last year and hopefully I can go a little bit better here. I'm definitely a lot stronger and the legs are feeling good."
Heat of battle
The second stage had proved to be slightly more testing than it looked on paper; it contained just the one category-3 rated ascent on the Alto de Pruna (620m) but plenty of other unranked climbs - and it all took place in searing heat.
While not quite as hot as previous days, the temperatures still reached 37 degrees and the day was marked by the expected early break.
Four riders - Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis), Mickaël Delage (Omega Pharma - Lotto), Javier Ramírez (Andalucía) and Johnnie Walker (Footon) - got away only 4km into the stage and had an advantage of just over seven minutes at one point.
However they were reduced to three when Buffaz crashed just before they hit the Alto de Pruna and was forced to abandon the race with a broken collarbone.
Delage himself also endured an up-and-down day - he took the points on that one climb to take top spot the early mountain classification but then appeared to struggle with the heat in the second half of the race.
The break never looked like staying clear and the peloton whittled down the gap on the long descent into Marbella, making the catch with just over 10km remaining.
That teed it up for the expected sprint finish but instead of a win for hot favourite Cavendish it was Hutarovich who landed the spoils, with virtually the whole field credited with the same time as the peloton finished together.
Monday's third stage sees the riders race 157.3 kilometres from Marbella to Malaga.