Mark Cavendish sprinted to victory on the third stage of the Tour of Britain after a near-perfect lead-out from his Team Sky team-mates.
Bradley Wiggins and Jeremy Hunt worked tirelessly to bring the remaining breakaway riders back inside the final 2km and then Christian Knees and Bernhard Eisel produced storming turns on the front before peeling off and allowing Luke Rowe to slingshot the world champion to a comfortable victory.
It was the Manxman’s 13th triumph of the season and after the stage he told us: "I’m delighted. We tried a few different things yesterday which didn’t quite work out, so Servais told us to keep things simple today and go for the sprint. We’ve got the team here who can do a brilliant lead out and it was pretty straightforward in the end.
"We didn’t have to control today, because we didn’t have the jersey, and that was in our favour because it meant we could use everybody up at the end.
"We always had those breakaway riders in our sights. Christian, Brad and Jez all did massive pulls and were able to line it out and bring everything back together at just the right time. It was great for me to be able to sit on the wheel while they were doing all the work.
"There’s only six riders per team here so the guys had to do long pulls. Bernie did almost a one-kilometre turn and then Luke went with just under 1km to go – which is far longer than the usual 400m for a lead-out man – and he rode it perfectly into the last corner.
"I knew the finish, that it would have a tailwind going downhill, so that meant I could go early, and I’m really happy to get the win."
The action had commenced in Jedburgh, and Team Sky were active from the start with Rowe bagging three bonus seconds by winning the day’s first intermediate sprint before five riders were allowed to move clear of the bunch.
The quintet built up a steady lead as they passed over the three categorised climbs, but with UnitedHealthcare and Team Sky tapping a steady tempo at the head of the peloton, their advantage was gradually reduced and Pete Williams (Node 4), Bernard Sulzberger (Raleigh) and Kristian House (Rapha–Condor) were swept up inside the final 22km.
Peter Hawkins (Team IG) and Wesley Kreder (Vacansoleil) pressed on bravely from that group - and were joined by new escapee Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin) as they circled back towards Dumfries - but with Hunt and Wiggins setting a blistering pace on the front, their days were ultimately numbered within 2.5km of the finish.
It was then that Knees and Eisel assumed control, and their turns saw many riders shelled out of the back before Rowe stepped up and led Cavendish out for a straightforward sprint to the line.
On the up
That result saw Cavendish move to second place in the general classification, level on time with new race leader Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Asked whether he would now be gunning for the overall victory, Cavendish quickly quashed such speculation, and added: "I'm here for stage wins, not the GC. Wearing the IG Markets gold jersey would be an honour but I've worn it before and I've only got the world champion's jersey for a few more days so I want to savour that more than anything."
As for the injuries sustained in his crash on the opening day of action, Cavendish admitted they were still sore, but that they hadn’t hindered his progress.
He joked: “Bernie set them off again when he congratulated me immediately after (laughs), and although they still hurt, I’ll survive. I think I’ve lost the feeling down that side anyway after all the crashes I’ve had this season.”
Knaven over the moon
Sports Director Servais Knaven meanwhile, was delighted with what he had witnessed on the road, and said: "We went 100% for the sprint today and it was the perfect lead out, so we can be very happy with that.
"Two stage wins in three days takes some of the pressure off us, and although it's always nice to have the race lead, we're in an ideal position at this stage in the game.
"The GC will only be decided on the last day and we've got plenty of options for that so we'll see how things progress before deciding who our leader will be.
"Cav's in second, and Luke's only four seconds behind him in fourth at the moment, with Bradley and Christian well-placed as well.
"Tomorrow there's another good chance for a sprint, so that's our priority at the moment because it could well be one of the last chances that Cav will have here, and then we'll concentrate on the GC later in the week."