Rory Townsend sprinted to fourth place as Dan Fleeman clinched victory in a controversial finale to the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic.
Metaltek-Kuota’s Fleeman outgunned ONE Pro Cycling’s Hayden McCormick in the finale after the pair had escaped the clutches of the peloton.
However, McCormick was clearly upset at his defeat as he gesticulated to his conqueror as they crossed the line.
Townsend was left to cross the line second in the kick, from a much-reduced bunch, with Sam Lowe also grabbing a top 10 for BIKE Channel Canyon.
It could have been even better for Tim Elverson’s team but a hat-trick of punctures put paid to the hopes of Chris Opie, who still had the strength to finish close behind the main bunch which numbered little more than 20 by the end of a gruelling 13th running of the UCI 1.2 race.
The race, which features a mix of wide roads and farm track sectors, began with two early crashes, one after just 4km, as the riders set out on two loops of Rutland Water at a ferocious pace.
Both laps were completed with the peloton altogether before David Bolland, of Neon Velo, attempted to get clear approaching Manton for the second time.
He was quickly reeled in, as was a small group who were next to try their luck.
The peloton was still together, albeit strung out, as they hit the Barleyberg after more than an hour of racing.
Finally, a group of eight riders were let off the leash, including Matt Nowell and Jake Womersley.
Kristian House was there for ONE Pro Cycling, although his chances were later scuppered by two rear wheel punctures.
Rietumu Banka-Riga rider Armands Becis, Rich Handley, of Madison Genesis, JLT Condor’s former winner Tom Moses and An Post duo Jacob Scott and 49 is Przemyslaw Kaperkiewicz were also in attendance.
In fact, it was the duo representing the Irish team who set about collecting the intermediate prizes on offer – the bodyweight in beer going to Scott. The king of the bergs went to Handley, though, and the huge pork pie to Moses.
The break’s advantage fluctuated for much of the race but reached more than two-and-a-half minutes as the terrain started to take its toll.
With House gone, Womersley was the next in difficulty and was soon beating a retreat.
ONE Pro had now taken over from Team Wiggins on the front of the peloton, which was quickly thinning out.
And when Nowell and Becis were shaken out of the break on the final climb of the Somerberg, it left Handley, Moses, Scott and Kasperkiewicz up the road.
But Rory Townsend was in pursuit, having escaped the peloton with Johnny McEvoy, of Madison, and ONE Pro’s Karol Domagalski.
The trio closed to within 45 seconds but the front group began to turn up the heat, with Moses looking especially strong.
With the peloton catching the trio in the gap and now closing to just 20 seconds, Handley and Scott were dropped, leaving just two out on their own.
With 20km to go, Madison’s Matt Holmes then bridged to the duo before attacking over the top as first Moses and then Kasperkiewicz were swept up by a select group.
The lone leader had eked his advantage out to almost 30 seconds as he entered the final 10km. But he was reeled in by McCormick and then Fleeman, who had the power to drop their rival coming into Melton for the thrilling finish.
Lowe was very close to sticking with Fleeman in the final move but in the end joined Townsend in the bunch to scrap for third.