Team Sky's Rigoberto Urán was a close-up third as Michael Albasini (GreenEDGE) took his second victory in a row on stage two of the Volta a Catalunya.
The 161 kilometres stage around Girona burst to life on the category one Alt dels Angels climb which was crested just 14km from the finish.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep had set a searing pace on the ascent and it meant the bunch was whittled down approaching the top, though Team Sky trio Urán, Bradley Wiggins and Richie Porte all remained right in the mix, with Paris-Nice winner Wiggins the second man over the summit.
They then helped lead the chase on the switchbacked descent into Girona after Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil-DCM), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Barracuda) had slipped clear.
A select group of around 30 riders was back together heading into the closing stages and it was Wiggins who led out Urán only for Albasini to swoop past for back-to-back victories. That cemented his overall lead which now stands at 1:32 over Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda).
Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was second on the day, with Urán in third, Porte ninth and Wiggins crossing the line in 16th.
In terms of the general classification, Porte (seventh), Urán (15th) and Wiggins (31st) are all on the same time as Hesjedal while Team Sky top the team classification.
Big test ahead
Next up for them and the rest of the riders is the 'Queen Stage' of the race on Wednesday which covers 211km from La Vall d'en Bas to Port-Aine and includes two first and two out-of-category climbs, ending with a gruelling summit finish.
Looking ahead to that as well as reflecting on stage two, Sports Director Sean Yates told us: "It's all looking good and we're again working well as a team which is nice to see.
"Everything went to plan in the final and it was in our favour that the group was thinned right down on the downhill - it was all pretty smooth and the boys did a great job to help bridge the gap before Brad took it up for Rigo.
"Tomorrow is another kettle of fish though and involves some serious climbing, with 4,000 metres of height gained which equates to something you might find in a big stage of the Tour de France.
"Hopefully the weather [there is a possibility of snow forecast] won’t play a part in disrupting proceedings. We’ve got three guys who can contend and be right up there so I’m looking forward to it, especially as I don’t have to do the pedalling!"
Tuesday's stage had earlier seen a three-man break featuring Cyril Bessy (Saur-Sojasun), Julián Sánchez (Caja Rural) and Jordi Simón (Andalucia) go clear after 11km and they were alowed to build up a maximum advantage of 7:12.
That came down rapidly in the second half of the route though as Albasini's GreenEDGE team came to the front of the main group to control things for the race leader.
And with 40km remaining heading up the category three Alt de la Ganga it was all back together, with the Alt dels Angels still to come.
It was there that Omega Pharma-Quickstep took up the reins and the man to suffer most was Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). The Spaniard had been distanced by an earlier problem and despite the best efforts of team-mate Nairo Quintana to pace him back to the front group he was unable to close the gap and ended up losing over two minutes on the day.