Team Sky's Rigoberto Urán fell just short of claiming a second win in as many days as he was edged out by Julien Simon (Saur-Sojasun) on stage five of the Volta a Catalunya.
In a similarly reduced field sprint to Thursday's stage, the Colombian drew alongside Simon and looked set to move ahead but the finish line came just too soon.
Earlier in the 207 kilometre trip from Asco to Manresa, Urán had distanced overall leader Michael Albasini (GreenEDGE) with an attack on the first category Alt de Montserrat, but the major contenders regrouped by the end of the stage.
Urán ended the day fifth in the overall standings, part of a large group of riders on the same time behind Albasini, who has a lead of one minute 32 seconds.
A breakaway of six riders formed 90km into the stage, with Mathias Frank (BMC), Kristof Vandewalle (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank), Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM), Marcos Garcia (Caja Rural) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) breaking free of the peloton.
At the foot of the Alt de Montserrat, Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas-Cannondale) launched a series of attacks from the main group to try and crack Albasini, but the Swiss rider was able to hang tough.
Urán then put in an attack of his own and initially only Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) was able to follow, but the duo were eventually caught by the chasing pack.
Another move containing Van den Broeck, Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) then broke clear but again the peloton reeled them in before the summit.
Up ahead Sorensen, who was already wearing the climber's jersey, took maximum points at the summit to extend his lead in the mountains competition.
The break of the day was finally caught on the descent and despite a brave downhill attack from Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), the bunch came back together again for a sprint into the finish.
On the short kick up to the line, Simon led the sprint out and held on by the narrowest of margins as a strong Urán started to come around him.
After the finish Sports Director Sean Yates admitted the sprint had been a tantalising one with Uran coming within a few inches of doubling up.
He said: “It was very close today. Time is running out to get rid of Albasini and everybody was trying. When it comes down to a sprint after a climb like that Rigo stood a good chance and he came very close to doing the double.
“The group was thinned out a lot and the guys at the front are all high quality. It was fast and up and down. You can’t just ride off into the sunset!
“Rigo is going very well as so is the rest of the team. They are all helping each other the best they can.”
With the fight for placings in the top 10 set to go down to the wire, Yates is happy to see the team still fighting at the sharp end despite just three riders remaining.
He added: “The queen stage was cancelled so it’s all about trying to make the best out of a bad situation. Rigo has moved up to fifth overall so we’re still racking up some points and putting on a good display.
“Davide has a good chance tomorrow if the race does come down to a sprint. There will be attacks and something could go away considering the time gaps. But Appo fancies his chances so never say never.”