George Atkins and Mitchell Webber stole a march on the peloton as Matt Teggart won stage three of the An Post Ras in Bundoran.
The An Post Chain Reaction rider beat JLT Condor’s Ian Bibby in the bunch sprint after a breakaway of 26 riders had earlier split the race apart.
Atkins and Webber finished in the second group on the road, 17th and 22nd, after 13 of their companions had powered away to contest the finale.
Dennis Bakker, of Delta Cycling Rotterdam, was fourth and now leads the race by 22 seconds. He also heads the points and mountains classifications.
Atkins and Webber crossed the line at 1min 2sec and now trail by 1.24 on general classification as they sit in 22nd and 24th positions, respectively.
Alex Richardson, who spent much of the day in a four-man chase group but failed to make contact with his two team-mates in the breakaway, finished with Dexter Gardias at 2.41 and the duo are now 3.03 adrift of Bakker.
Max Stedman came down in a crash and, after crossing the line in the peloton, now trails the leader by 8.57.
Shortly after the flag dropped, nine riders jumped clear and a further nine, including Webber, set off in pursuit. When the junction was made, the time gap back to the peloton rose quickly to well in excess of three minutes.
However, not everyone was happy. And an injection of pace in the bunch halved that deficit before more attacks came.
Former Team Raleigh man Morgan Kneisky, now of Armee de Terre, and Simon Ryan, from Cork Strata3 VeloRevolution, kicked it off. And they dragged another seven, including Atkins, with them, although Tipperary Panduit’s Sean Telverton was soon beating a retreat.
The remaining eight got their heads down, though. And after Damien Shaw had taken the intermediate sprint in Inishcrone for An Post Chain Reaction, they made the catch.
JLT Condor had strength in numbers, with Rob McCarthy joined by Bibby and James Gullen. Meanwhile, fellow Brits Neon Velo were represented by Elliott Porter.
Clearly concerned with none of their men featuring in the 26 up the road, Team Wiggins then sent Michael O’Loughlin off in pursuit. Richardson joined him, with Belgian Bryan Boussaer and Jake Sitler, of CCB Velotooler, tagging on soon afterwards.
The quartet, chased by Alex Blain of Madison Genesis, were faced with the best part of two minutes to bridge as the breakaway increased their lead on the main bunch to three minutes.
As the stage entered its final 50km, the peloton sat up, Blain was reabsorbed and the 26 leaders saw their advantage soar in excess of five minutes with the four chasers still hovering 90 seconds adrift.
With 30km to go and with the main bunch gradually upping the tempo, Ryan got restless and attacked. But despite his move dragging eight men out in pursuit, including Atkins, it came to nothing.
Richardson and his fellow chasers were beginning to struggle now, with their deficit increasing to two-and-a-half minutes. Meanwhile, race leader Nicolai Nielsen had one last throw of the dice, clipping off the front of the peloton with a small group in a bid to bridge the gap.
With 15km left, the breakaway split in two, with Webber and Atkins both held up in the second group of 13. And there appeared to be no way back as the leaders quickly opened up a gap of 45 seconds.
And so it proved, as the riders geared up for a sprint in Bundoran, with Teggart taking the win in front of Bibby, with Stephane Poulhies, of Armee de Terre, completing the podium positions.
Click here for the full result.