Dexter Gardias finished ninth as Jan-Willem van Schip clinched a solo victory on stage two of the An Post Ras.
However, it was a brave ride from Alex Richardson which ultimately sparked the decisive late attack that paved the way for the Delta Cycling Rotterdam man to grab the win.
A nervous peloton had refused to let anyone off the leash on the 142.9km dash to Newport until the BIKE Channel Canyon made his move with 30km remaining.
Van Schip then used all his strength to drop Richardson and his other three companions with 10km to go and, for the second successive stage, the peloton failed to make the catch.
Richardson’s hopes of a podium were dashed inside the final four kilometres when, along with the other trio, he was swept up by the marauding pack.
He went on to finish in the bunch, which was led home by runner-up Chris Latham, of Team Wiggins, seven seconds adrift of van Schip.
Gardias crossed the line in a superb ninth place, while the rest of the BIKE Channel Canyon squad, Max Stedman, George Atkins and Mitchell Webber, were all safely in the group. They all remain at 31 seconds from race leader Nicolai Nielsen.
A hectic opening 80 minutes saw numerous attacks launched and a temporary split in the peloton, however, nothing stuck and it was all back together at 57.4km.
Amid it all, Ian Bibby, of JLT Condor, had taken the first sprint before Matic Groselj, of Slovenian outfit ROG Ljubljana, picked up the second prime.
Still the attacks came and still the peloton refused to let up. With more than two hours and 90km in the legs, something had to give soon.
Inside 50km to go and nine riders went clear, including Bibby and Tom Moses, of JLT, and Team Wiggins rider Michael O’Loughlin, before they were joined by a further 21 shortly afterwards.
However, when a barriers at a railway crossing came down, their advantage was less than 30 seconds, meaning the race would restart as one.
Noah Granigan, of CCB Velotooler, jumped clear to take the third intermediate sprint of the day after 108km, dragging Eoin Morton, who won stage two last year, with him.
The duo were soon caught as Richardson, who had also been in one of the first moves of the day, picked his moment to counter. JLT’s Ed Laverack went with him and they were soon joined by Dowling, of Cork Strata3 Velorevolution.
Shaw, An Post Chain Reaction, and van Schip bridged across and, as the riders worked well together, they opened a gap of 50 seconds.
With less than 20km to go the gap had reached one minute, for the first time in the entire stage. However, the hammer was down in the peloton.
As the race breezed through Westport, the gap was tumbling. With 10km remaining, it was no more than 30 seconds as a bunch sprint looked almost certain.
With the writing seemingly on the wall, van Schip had one last dig for glory. He dropped Richardson & Co and when those four were absorbed by the peloton with 4km left, he held an advantage of 25 seconds.
And for the second successive stage, the main bunch failed to make the catch, timing their run to the line a fraction late as van Schip held on for top spot.
Nielsen retained the leaders’ jersey, while Chris Latham, of Team Wiggins, held on to the points jersey and van Schip’s team-mate Dennis Bakker came under no threat in the mountains classification. Click here for the full results.