Marcel Kittel powered to a second stage victory at the Eneco Tour after another bunch kick in the Low Countries.
The German (Argos-Shimano) backed up his success on stage one as he took top honours in Bergen op Zoom, getting the measure of Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) and Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Nissan) in the process.
The stage always looked likely to end in a bunch sprint but it was the penultimate time across the line which saw the overall lead change hands.
With just one rider from the day’s break left out front, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Lars Boom (Rabobank) took the remaining two and one bonus seconds from the peloton.
That burst of energy allowed Boonen, who also took fourth at the finish, to move into a slender one-second lead with three stages remaining, pipping compatriot Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEDGE) in the process.
Rolling out of Heers ahead of 213.3 kilometres of riding the amount of aero helmets in the peloton meant all signs pointed towards a fast finish.
Six went clear early on and fought it out for the combativity prize and bonus seconds along the route, the peloton keeping them at arm’s length all the while
Positioning was key at the head of the bunch on narrow, twisting roads around the finishing circuit, especially as the pace ramped up in the closing stages as the break pushed the pace.
With 18km to go Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM) went off on his own, the rest of his breakaway partners absorbed by the peloton, leaving two and one bonus seconds on offer to Boonen and Boom.
Bonus seconds will again be hotly-contested on Friday’s stage five before the penultimate stage time trial in Ardooie.