Harry Tanfield showcased his growing potential before Caleb Ewan sprinted to glory on stage three of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
The 22-year-old Great Ayton talent was rewarded with the High5 combativity prize after spending more than 150km up the road in grim conditions in North Lincolnshire.
After helping light up the 176.9km battle from Normanby Hall & Country Park to Scunthorpe in a five-man break, Tanfield clinched BIKE Channel Canyon‘s maiden podium in Britain’s premier road race.
When the strength of the World Tour teams finally told with 10km to go – and following a gutsy attack from Rob Partridge, Orica-Scott teed up Ewan to outgun Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff at the line.
The Aussie sprinter, who won stage one in Kelso, regained the lead in the general classification – just six seconds ahead of Elia Viviani and seven in front of Boasson Hagen.
JLT Condor’s Graham Briggs, who spent a third successive day up the road, scooped the majority of bonuses to take the lead in both the Eisberg sprints and Skoda king of the mountains competitions.
But Tanfield’s heroics were rightly rewarded as the Yorkshireman followed up his combativity prize on stage three at the Tour de Yorkshire with similar recognition here.
Dexter Gardias and James Lowsley-Williams finished in the main bunch – the latter making a remarkable recovery from a heavy early crash – as the team produced another impressive performance in the UCI 2.HC contest.
Gardias remains in 58th position in the general classification, 20 seconds adrift of Ewan with five stages to go.
After rolling out of Normanby Hall & Country Park, a series of early digs came to nothing before Lowsley-Williams launched an explosive attack which looked promising for Tim Elverson’s troops.
However, as the Cotswolds ace attempted to establish a gap on the wet Lincolnshire roads, he lost grip on a corner and came down heavily.
The next move did stick, though, as Lowsley-Williams’ team-mate Tanfield jumped off the front with four companions.
World Tour outfits Team Sky and Dimension Data were happy to put a road block in place and let the quintet get up the road.
Tanfield was joined by JLT Condor duo Briggs and Ian Bibby, Pete Williams, of ONE Pro Cycling, and Madison Genesis rider Matt Holmes in an all British UCI Continental break.
The group had an advantage of 3min 30sec when they approached the opening Eisberg sprint at Crowle after 34km.
Tanfield worked hard to hold off Williams and Holmes but there was no beating the JLT duo, with Briggs taking maximum points.
The order was the same at sprint two in Bottesford as the BIKE Channel Canyon man rolled over in third after Briggs and Bibby had overhauled Williams.
With fewer than 100km remaining, the escapees held an advantage of three minutes over the peloton, policed by the Sky train of race leader Viviani.
The opening Skoda king of the mountain climb was the category three ascent at Greetwell. Briggs and Bibby took another one-two, this time denying third-placed Holmes.
And Briggs kept his run going in the final sprint at Scawby, confirming himself in the red Eisberg jersey with victory from Holmes and Tanfield.
Bibby, who had led out the kick for his JLT team-mate, was then forced to change a wheel following a puncture as the break set sail for the second KOM at Wrawby Hill.
But he returned to the service of Briggs for the climb, as the latter took the lead in the king of the mountains competition with an emphatic victory. Tanfield beat Holmes to third.
With only the category three climb at Winterton remaining, less than 15km from the finish, the peloton began to light up the chase and soon started to close the gap to the break.
Unsurprisingly it was Briggs, following three days up the road, who was the first to wave the white flag and beat a retreat back into the main bunch with his job done.
Tanfield, who briefly hit out as the advantage plummeted, was distanced as the final KOM began, with Skoda jersey wearer Jacob Scott, of An Post Chain Reaction, seeing his opportunity to bridge the gap.
Bibby took the points, crossing the line ahead of Holmes, Williams and Scott just seven seconds in front of the peloton which was looming large behind them.
It was finally all back together with little more than 10km remaining, as Tanfield’s team-mates began to move forward in the bunch.
Partridge had a brave dig off the front with 9.5km to go. His effort was shut down before Simone Andreetta, of Bardiani, also tried his luck without success.
Philippe Gilbert was the last to go long, making his move with a kilometre remaining, but similar to his opportunist strike on stage two, it failed to pay off.
Instead, Orica-Floors powerhouse Luka Mezgec reeled him in to set up his team-mate Ewan to beat Boasson Hagen and Kristoff on the line.
Click here for the full result from stage three.