Arnaud Démare denied André Greipel a victory in his own backyard by winning a hotly-contested Vattenfall Cyclassics in Germany.
The FDJ man edged ahead of Greipel as the one-day classic reached a flat-out conclusion, and defended his position brilliantly to pip his Lotto-Belisol rival and RadioShack’s Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack) at the line.
Defending champion Edvald Boasson Hagen was Team Sky’s highest-ranked rider in fifth position, and finished one place behind Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Tom Boonen.
The 217km race had taken place in sweltering conditions, with temperatures rising to a balmy 37 degrees centigrade, but that didn’t stop a flurry of activity throughout the day.
Andreas Dietziker (NetApp), Jesse Sergent (RadioShack) and Gregor Gazvoda (AG2R) broke away early and enjoyed a seven-minute advantage at one stage before they were hauled back on the first of four ascents up the Waseberg.
Another seven-man group temporarily went clear after cresting the summit of that punchy climb, and pre-race favourites like Boonen and Peter Sagan (Liquigas) were also present in another escape before Team Sky helped bring things back together as the race reached its conclusion.
Their sprinter Boasson Hagen was thrust into contention as the peloton swept into Hamburg, but it was Démare who would take the plaudits after kicking clear early and holding off the pursuit of his higher-profile rivals.