Thomas Löfkvist led Team Sky home in ninth position at the Coppa Sabatini after Fabio Duarte had outpaced his six breakaway rivals in Peccioli.
Löfkvist had spent most the day in the peloton after Lars-Petter Nordhaug had featured in two of the day’s main moves, and sealed his highest result of his season to date by outsprinting the bulk of the peloton after Duarte (Colombia Coleportes) had claimed his victory ahead of Miguel Ángel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli) and Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini) .
The action had taken place under clear skies and Team Sky were active from the off with Xabier Zandio infiltrating an early nine-man move and Nordhaug joining him with Johan Esteban Chaves (Colombia) shortly after.
The 11 riders had opened up a 1min 50sec advantage as they passed onto the first six-lap circuit, and were eventually joined by 16 further riders as they passed through along the undulating terrain.
Nordhaug (who finished the day 12th) was among another six-man move who edged clear again as the race passed onto a shorter four-lap finishing loop, but the peloton was back together with 27km remaining - only for the decisive break to emerge just five kilometres further down the road.
Duarte, Rubiano and Rabottini were all present in that, and worked productively with Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Francesco Failli (Farnese Vini) and Patrik Sinkewitz (Meridiana Kamen) to build an unassailable lead heading onto the final drag to the finish line.
That was where Duarte made the most of his punchy, explosive style before battling on to seal his second victory of the season by a couple of bike lengths.
After the race, Sean Yates was pleased with the performance his riders had shown, and admitted it would stand them in good stead for the weekend's Giro dell'Emilia and GP Bruno Beghelli.
He told us: “It was good that Xabi and Lars-Petter managed to get themselves into that first break of the day, although they were never given more than a minute before it swelled to 27 riders.
“Lars-Petter went again, and that added up to around 170km in the break, so he can be happy with that, but he just couldn’t follow again when that counter attack went late on.
“That said, he and Thomas gave one hell of a chase right at the end with Acqua & Sapone which shelled plenty of riders in the process, and they did well to finish where they did.
“It’s been a long old season, but I’m pleased with our performance today and we’ll look forward to Saturday now. Lars-Petter has shown he’s still in good form so we’ll do all we can to help him again.”