Richie Porte maintained his lead at the Volta ao Algarve after a strong ride from the team on stage four.
The Australian heads into Sunday’s final stage time trial with a margin of 12 seconds over his nearest rivals after Team Sky saw off competition from a committed breakaway on the run into Tavira.
Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed fourth on the line to ensure the team made a second trip up to the podium as the Norwegian finally got his hands on the white points jersey.
Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) took advantage of a strong lead-out to take victory on the day, latching onto the wheel of team-mate Matteo Trentin out of the final corner before holding on across the line.
The young Italian held on for second while Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) completed the top three after narrowly edging out Boasson Hagen.
After Friday’s spectacular mountain-top finish the 186.3km test from Vilamoura looked likely to hand the initiative back to the sprinters.
Despite the stage appearing relatively straightforward on paper that did not stop a large group of 10 riders heading clear prior to the day’s only categorised climb.
With Jesus Hernandez (Saxo Bank) the best placed man on the GC - one minute and one second behind Porte - the deficit was monitored closely by Team Sky who held the gap steady despite the amount of escapees.
The team shared out the workload on the front until other teams who had a vested interest in a sprint finish also arrived to help as the size of the break began to decrease.
Five riders still had a tantalising advantage in the closing stages but were swallowed up with two kilometres to go and Omega Pharma-Quickstep took the finale by the scruff of the neck.
Four down, one to go
After the stage Sports Director Nicolas Portal was happy to report the team had come through the day with no problems with two jerseys now occupied by the squad.
He said: “It was a good day for the team today. Richie is still in the yellow jersey and the team controlled things very well.
“Ciolek won the stage but Edvald was up there and took the points jersey. There were no issues for the guys and we are ready for the final stage tomorrow.
“We had some help today with the chase. Topsport Vlaanderen helped during the day and then in the final Garmin were also up there which was good for us.”
Attention now turns to the final time trial where Portal is crossing his fingers for the right result, adding: “Richie is confident and happy. He is very strong; obviously you never know what will happen but I really hope he will have a great result. The course is a bit hilly. The first section is quite technical, more so than last year so it could suit Richie. So we will cross our fingers for tomorrow!”