Michael Rogers maintained his race lead at Bayern Rundfahrt as Team Sky helped control proceedings over the 196.4 kilometres of stage three.
The team combined with a number of interested sprinters’ teams to tear into the advantage of a four-man escape group in the final kilometres to ensure a bunch sprint.
The result allowed Rogers to hold on to yellow heading into Saturday’s 26.4km time trial by the slender margin of five seconds over Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) following his heroic stage win on stage two.
Alessandro Petacchi claimed his second stage win of the race on the day, holding off Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ-BigMat) and John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) into Treuchtlingen.
Four German Continental riders headed clear inside the opening 10km with Team Sky happy to let the break spin out to 9:35 before taking to the front following the tough opening climb at Ronsberg/Wolfs.
On the long descent down into Donauworth, Orica-GreenEDGE and Lampre-ISD were also willing to pitch in with an eye on securing a second bunch sprint in the race
The break held an advantage of two minutes heading into the finishing circuits in Treuchtlingen but were always up against it as the WorldTour squads seized control with Petacchi the first to profit, denying Degenkolb the chance to win on his home roads.
The five-day race continues into the weekend with a likely decisive time trial in Freuchtwangen.
Defending the jersey
After the stage Sports Director Sean Yates explained the team's strategy out on the road.
He said: "It was a fairly straightforward day today. The best-placed guy in the break was six minutes down so it wasn’t necessary for us to pull them back. There were plenty of teams who were interested in the sprint and if it got too far out they wouldn’t be too interested in doing the work.
"Petacchi is in pretty good shape and his team were pretty keen. We started riding early which encouraged others to lend a hand. It was a pretty easy day after that but the guys were riding hard as it was block headwind the whole day."
Attention now turns to the time trial and a pivotal stage for Rogers if he is to hold on to the jersey.
On the course Yates added: "We’re going to have a look at it later. It’s quite lumpy. It’s not a drag-strip and it should suit Mick. It could suit the other contenders too like Coppel. Richie isn’t that far off the GC so if he could put in a stunning ride he could bring himself intot he picture.
"Kosta [Kanstantsin Siutsou] is there too. It’s the race of truth and it’s about what you have in your legs. He doesn’t get many chances to go for a result of his own and he’s motivated to give it a good go."