Lars-Petter Nordhaug's late escape bid was thwarted as Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) won a rain-lashed fourth stage at the Tour de Suisse.
Team Sky's Nordhaug had launched an opportunist attack with 27 kilometres left in the up-and-down 189 kilometres route from Aarberg to Trimbach/Olten - and it briefly looked like paying dividends.
The Norwegian bridged across to Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), the last remaining rider from an earlier nine-man break, and quickly surged past him before setting sail for home.
Making light of the tricky conditions, Nordhaug had stretched his advantage to 42 seconds on the peloton coming into the final 10km, though he was being closed down by Martin Elmiger (AG2R La Mondiale) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
The three of them joined forces soon after but, as the reduced pack got organised behind, the gap started to tumble and it was all back together inside the last 3km to set up the bunch finish.
And, just as he had 24 hours earlier, Slovak star Sagan underlined his sprint superiority as he claimed his third victory of the race, winning by a couple of bike lengths from JJ Rojas (Movistar), with Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) in third.
Despite the testing route thinning out the pack, the main overall contenders all finished in the front group which means that Rui Costa (Movistar) maintains his eight seconds advantage over Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), with Team Sky's Thomas Löfkvist still in sixth, 21 seconds back.
On the attack
We caught up with Team Sky Sports Director Marcus Ljunqvist to get the details on what had been a lively stage from the off as Xabier Zandio, Salvatore Puccio and Mathew Hayman all featured in early breaks.
Hayman had been in the day's main break which finally went clear after 73km but that group also included Cataldo, only 1:15 back on the general classification, so it was no surprise to see their lead capped at under three minutes.
Ljunqvist explained: "It was full-on racing pretty much up to the first categorised climb. Xabier was in the first real break and soon after it was all threatening to split up a bit behind.
"But it all came back together and Puccio briefly got away before that main break of the day which featured Mat. You knew that one was coming back with Cataldo in there but it was still good to have someone up there as it made it easier for the other guys in the main group.
"We knew the final was going to be hard but it produced some good bike racing and it was an excellent attack from Lars-Petter which almost paid off.
"It was a good try from him and the whole team did well throughout the stage."
Another hilly day on Wednesday takes the riders 193km from Olten/Trimbach to Gansingen and Ljungqvist added: "Tomorrow has more categorised climbs but I think it looks a little bit easier, even though rain is again forecast.
"Swifty [sprinter Ben Swift] just lost touch on the final steep climb today and he's a bit frustrated about that as he's going well but he'll try again tomorrow."