Rigoberto Urán produced a superb performance to win stage four of the Volta a Catalunya, his first victory for Team Sky.
The Colombian was part of a much-reduced three-man Team Sky squad following a third stage which was badly affected by the weather but that didn't prevent him playing a prominent part throughout the 199 kilometres fourth stage from Tremp to Ascó.
He was in the front rank when it mattered and first made a move with 40km remaining as the day's early break was reeled in, counterattacking on the first descent from the Alt de Les Paumeres.
Sandy Casar (FDJ-Big Mat) and Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) soon joined him but the GreenEDGE team of race leader Michael Albasini went into action to pull back that break.
The next key moment came when Urán was one of six riders to slip the field near the top of the final climb and he and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) drove that group on the descent to maximise their advantage.
The sextet's lead hovered around the 10 seconds mark for much of the final 15km and it was tantalisingly close going under the flamme rouge but Urán timed his sprint to perfection as it all started to come back together and crossed the line half a wheel length in front of fellow escapees Denis Menchov (Katusha) and Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Albasini was in the chase group which bridged the gap in that final kilometre which means he continues to lead the overall standings by 1:32, with Steve Morabito (BMC Racing) in second while Urán is up to sixth and Team Sky continue to head the team classification.
Sports Director Sean Yates was full of praise for Urán's performance when we spoke to him soon afterwards, saying: "It was a very exciting win and everyone is delighted for him.
"We knew Rigoberto had good legs - we saw that at Paris-Nice - and he was motivated here and keen to get stuck in. The fact that we were down to three men didn't make too much difference today; he had the form, was there throughout and made it count."
A thrilling finale saw the escape group just hold off their rivals and Yates added: "Obviously the top 10 of the GC was in the mix after Albasini so the chasers weren't about to let it get away. The six in front were riding well enough together but the gap was never allowed to grow and it was closing all the time as the finish approached.
"I told Rigoberto to sit on in the last kilometre just to save his legs for the sprint. It was worth a gamble as the gap was so small and it all worked out which was great to see - he was made up in a big way.
"It's fantastic for Rigo - he often races with Bradley [Wiggins] which means he's usually in a support role so it's great for him to have an opportunity to shine and take that chance with the victory."
The man himself gave his reaction a little later and was understandably delighted with the way the day had panned out. Urán explained: "It was a complicated stage and we knew we had to be alert as there were only the three of us; we were looking to play off the other teams a bit and take our chances when they arose.
“I got in the first break and then the second one went away at the top of the last climb which included quality riders like Denis Menchov, Levi Leipheimer and Samuel Sánchez so I knew it was a good move. I had hoped we’d take more time but the chase group brought it back towards the end."
Reflecting on the sprint, Urán was keen to highlight the support he had been given earlier in the week when third on stage two as an added motivation to cross the line in front this time, saying: "I’ve been feeling really good this week and a few days ago Brad [Wiggins] worked amazingly for me when I got third but didn’t quite have it at the end so I really wanted to win this one to repay some of that work and show that I could finish it off.
“I’m ecstatic, I’ve been close to a win for Team Sky before and it’s nice to finally get this victory."
Friday's fifth stage has a similar profile as it covers 207km to Manresa and the 25-year-old will be doing everything he can to repeat his win, adding: "Tomorrow is also pretty tricky with a couple of climbs towards the end but I’ll try and stay alert and do the same again."