Team Sky's Geraint Thomas just missed out on victory as he finished a superb second behind Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank Sungard) at Dwars door Vlaanderen in northern Belgium.
The duo escaped from the peloton with 20 kilometres remaining and caught an earlier three-man break, with Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet) the only one of that trio who managed to stay with them before he was dropped just after the flamme rouge.
From that point onwards Nuyens and British champion Thomas maintained their momentum to hold off the fast-finishing pack and it was home favourite Nuyens who found a final kick to land the spoils.
Thomas had led out the sprint but Classics specialist Nuyens, who has victories at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Omloop Het Volk on his palmarès, came past in the final hundred metres to win by just over a bike length.
Just a second behind, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) took the bunch sprint for third, ahead of Team Sky's Mathew Hayman who claimed fourth on what proved another excellent day in Belgium for the team, coming hot on the heels of Chris Sutton's victory at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and Juan Antonio Flecha and Hayman's podium positions at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Ian Stannard (25th) and Flecha (33rd) were also in that select front group and sports director Steven de Jongh afterwards: "The whole team was super-strong again. Flecha and Mathew Hayman were both very good and Ian Stannard too, so I was really happy with the team as a whole."
De Jongh also revealed that Thomas' second place was achieved despite plenty of bad luck earlier in the race, explaining: "First he punctured (after 109km) and then he dropped his chain and had to swap bikes just before the Eikenberg (after 140km).
"Neither were good points for that to happen so he had to expend a lot of extra energy and we were really surprised he was able to make it all the way to the final.
"We now for more of the same from the squad on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem as the guys are all in excellent shape."
Story of the race
The 66th edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen, which was kicking off Flemish Cycling Week, included nine sections of pavé and 12 short, sharp climbs.
A top-class field, which also included Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo), had allowed an early break to go clear and build up a lead of approaching six minutes.
But first Team Sky, with around 60km to go, forced the pace on the front of the peloton before Saxo Bank Sungard, working for Nuyens, continued to drive down the gap.
Quick-Step duo Boonen and Niki Terpstra plus Team Sky pair Flecha and Hayman were in the midst of the attacks from that point onwards but with the leading group splintering behind on the back of a big turn on the front from Cancellara it was Nuyens and Thomas who made what proved the race-defining move with just under 20km remaining.