Dexter Gardias finished fourth as ONE Pro Cycling claimed a remarkable one-two-three in stage one of the Tour of the Reservoir.
Karol Domagalski took the victory, crossing the line side-by-side with team-mates Kamil Gradek and Tom Stewart after a brutal day of racing in County Durham.
Defending champion Joe Fry produced a brilliant display at the head of affairs after the race had been blown apart during seven laps of the Derwent Reservoir.
But with the stage reaching its climax, he found himself outnumbered four-to-one by the ONE Pro troops who quickly began to turn up the heat.
They made their numerical advantage pay and Fry was swallowed up by the chasers, leaving Gardias to emerge and power up the final kicker to clinch fourth place, 1min 35sec adrift of Domagalski.
His efforts have ensured he remains a contender going into the 133km second stage on Sunday (1.30pm), with only 13 riders within two minutes of the race leader.
Fry was 18th at 7.54, while Chris Opie finished 23rd at 10.58, Matt Nowell was 30th at 19.33, with Rob Partridge, James Lowsley-Williams, Jack Pullar and Max Stedman a few seconds further adrift.
Following a 30-minute delay, Lowsley-Williams’ race got off to the worst possible start when he suffered an early puncture before getting caught behind a crash as he attempted to chase back on.
That left the Cotswolds ace facing a long day playing catch-up while Scott Davies, of Team Wiggins, made the early move at the front of the race.
Fresh from his latest national under-23 time trial title, Davies led through the first of seven laps of the water before getting reeled in, prompting an attack from ONE Pro’s Hayden McCormick.
Tour of the Reservoir debutant Stedman made his presence felt on the climbs, having joined McCormick and VCUK’s Dillon Byrne he was active when points were on offer in the mountains classification.
And although shortlived, that move enticed more riders into the action and soon a powerful group of 19 had forged ahead with early signs of the wind causing fractures in the peloton behind.
The BIKE Channel Canyon quartet of Opie, Stedman, Nowell and defending champion Fry all made the front group, which soon began to open up a gap on the chasers.
As the stage moved past halfway, Fry drove clear in the company of Domagalski and Davies. By now riders were dotted all over the road as the race had split to pieces in the crosswinds.
Domagalski’s team-mates Stewart, Gradek and James Oram then bridged to the trio up front before Davies was distanced, leaving Fry fighting a lone battle against the former Pro Continental outfit.
And in the end, it proved too much. ONE Pro made their numerical advantage pay, filling all three podium spots while Oram and Fry were dropped and swallowed up by the small chasing group, which included Gardias.
Click here for the full result.