Alex Dowsett had a productive day for Team Sky in the breakaway on stage three at the Eneco Tour.
The Brit made his way into a four-man move which went away in the early going and was the main man to profit from the break, taking the maximum points and bonus seconds on offer to reduce his overall deficit to 27 seconds on the race leader.
At the finish it was Theo Bos (Rabobank) who hit out early in the sprint but held on to take victory, the Dutchman putting his track background to good use with a huge burst of speed on the finishing straight.
Bos fended off John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Sharp) at the line in Genk after a hectic finish in the cycling hotbed.
A technical finishing circuit littered with road furniture saw riding reminiscent of the Spring Classics, with riders using every available piece of road or path or move up in the bunch.
A sprint finish played into the hands of Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEDGE) who maintained race lead carved out by his squad in Tuesday’s team time trial.
The stage saw the riders cover some of the most famous terrain in the Low Countries, including a preview of one-and-a-half laps of the upcoming World Championships course in Limburg.
Four riders went away in the early going with Dowsett (Team Sky) combining with James Vanlandschoot (Accent.Jobs), Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Matteo Bono (Lampre-ISD) out on the road.
Behind it was Orica-GreenEDGE who took up the gauntlet, controlling the pace on the front for most of the day before being joined by other teams as the sprint closed in.
The final time across the line the gap stood at just 55 seconds, the quartet finally swept up with 8km to go.
Stage one winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) was not able to influence the outcome after puncturing out of the lead-out, with Bos the man to seize the initiative at the finish.
After the stage Steven de Jongh focused on the positives with both of the team's GC men still in the mix.
He said: “Alex took some seconds out on the road. Hopefully it will make a difference at the end of the race after the time trial.
“When he was caught it was important that he and Christian stayed in the front group and they both managed to do that. It was a really hectic final and the boys helped out well there.
“Tomorrow is another flat day so it should end in a bunch kick and we’ll see what we can do there.”