Andrew Tennant finished 15th as Vital Concept’s Jérémy Lecroq celebrated Grand Prix de la Ville de Lillers glory on an attritional day in the saddle.
Amid grim weather conditions in the north of France, the 30-year-old shrugged off an early bike change to cross the line seventh from the bunch as they kicked for minor placings.
Alex Paton also finished inside the main group (36th) after nine riders has escaped their clutches to battle for victory in the 1.2 contest.
However, they were the only two Canyon Eisberg survivors following a gruelling cold and wet start to the team’s 2018 UCI campaign.
Rory Townsend made it into the day’s breakaway, having put in a tenacious performance at the front of the bunch in the opening few laps.
After he was involved in a couple of moves which were not allowed off the leash, the 2017 Spring Cup champion was in a group of five – including two Wanty Groupe Gobert riders, who escaped on lap three.
Tennant had already changed his bike at this stage, while the peloton had been strung out during the opening skirmishes as teams marked attacks.
Townsend and his fellow breakaway companions finally gained themselves a cushion, holding at 30 seconds for a while before eventually edging out to more than two minutes.
Unfortunately, the horrible weather conditions and fierce pace were doing damage back in the bunch.
Jack Pullar lost touch shortly after the halfway mark, with Dexter Gardias next to follow him in climbing off.
With three laps to go, a rain-soaked Townsend’s day was done, too. He was dropped by the break and joined Chris Opie in calling time on his race.
Louis Rose-Davies, who was a late replacement for James Lowsley-Williams in the seven-man team, produced a brave effort.
The first-year senior was still involved as the peloton cut the escape group’s advantage to just 45 seconds with around two laps remaining.
But soon it was just Paton and Tennant representing Tim Elverson’s squad as the main bunch, under the drive of French outfit Vital Concept, bore down on the leaders.
As the battle for honours intensified on the final lap, the front of the bunch split with nine riders escaping its clutches.
And from those, Lecroq proved the strongest as he crossed the line ahead of Yoann Paillot, from St Michel Auber 93, and Alfdan De Decker, of the Lotto Soudal Under-23 squad.
Only 58 of the 125 starters finished the race. Lecroq follows in the slipstream of countryman Thomas Boudat, who won the 186km race last season. Click here for the full result.