Mark Cavendish sprinted to victory on the third stage of the Tour of Britain after a well-executed lead-out from his Team Sky team-mates.
Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Jeremy Hunt worked tirelessly to bring the remaining breakaway riders back inside the final 2km and then Christian Knees and Bernhard Eisel produced storming turns on the front before peeling off and allowing Luke Rowe to slingshot the world champion to a comfortable victory.
It was the Manxman’s 13th triumph of the season and immediately after the stage he told ITV4: "I knew the finish, that it would have a tailwind going downhill, so that meant I could go early, and I had a perfect lead out.
"Luke was so fast at the end, and Bernie before him, and Brad and Jez kept it strung out before that. It was a pretty textbook display."
The action had commenced in Jedburgh, and Team Sky were active from the start with Rowe bagging three bonus seconds by winning the day’s first intermediate sprint before five riders were allowed to move clear of the bunch.
The quintet built up a steady lead as they passed over the three categorised climbs, but with UnitedHealthcare and Team Sky tapping a steady tempo at the head of the peloton, their advantage was gradually reduced and Pete Williams (Node 4), Bernard Sulzberger (Raleigh) and Kristian House (Rapha–Condor) were swept up inside the final 22km.
Peter Hawkins (Team IG) and Wesley Kreder (Vacansoleil) pressed on bravely from that group - and were joined by new escapee Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin) as they circled back towards Dumfries - but with Hunt and Wiggins setting a blistering pace on the front, their days were ultimately numbered within 2.5km of the finish.
It was then that Knees and Eisel assumed control, and their turns saw many riders shelled out of the back before Rowe stepped up and led Cavendish out for a straightforward sprint to the line.
On the up
That result saw Cavendish move to second place in the general classification, level on time with new race leader Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Asked whether he would now be gunning for the overall victory, Cavendish quickly quashed such speculation, and added: "I'm here for stage wins, not the GC. Wearing the IG Markets gold jersey would be an honour but I've worn it before and I've only got the world champion's jersey for a few more days so I want to savour that more than anything."