BIKE Channel Canyon banked another big day in the saddle on their march towards the Tour of Britain.
However, Tim Elverson’s men were unable to topple their top European rivals in the UCI 1.1 GP Stad Zottegem in Belgium.
Harry Tanfield was the team’s top finisher, crossing the line in 50th position, 59sec adrift of Lotto Soudal’s victorious sprinter Jasper de Buyst.
The 23-year-old Belgian held off Cibel Cebon’s Joeri Stallaert and 2015 champion Kenny Dehaes, of Wanty Groupe Gobert, to win the bunch kick.
Fewer than 40 riders survived to contest the finish of the 198km race, which has been won by the likes of Edward Theuns (2014), Matthias Brändle (2012) and Svein Tuft (2011).
Rory Townsend, fresh from Bristol Grand Prix and South East Road Championship glory at the weekend, had earlier wasted little time in making his presence felt.
The 22-year-old, from Addlestone, Surrey, got himself into an early three-man breakaway as the team set about their high-class rivals.
That move was eventually brought back with around 50km to go, shortly after the hopes of James Lowsley-Williams and Jack Pullar had been dashed by a crash.
Fortunately, the duo escaped unscathed but their team-mates were left to battle on alone. And that they did, until the pressure told in the latter stages.
Tanfield crossed the line in a group of 11, which was led home by Wanty duo Wes Kreder and Guillaume van Keirsbulck, who spent six years with Quick Step.
Rob Partridge finished 3.06 adrift, while Sam Lowe and Chris Opie arrived side-by-side 5.15 down on the World Tour winner.
BIKE Channel Canyon‘s stay in Belgium will climax on Wednesday when they contest a third UCI 1.1 race – the Druivenkoers – Overijse.
Once again, the starlist is of high class, with Lotto Soudal, Lotto NL Jumbo, Direct Energie and Fortuneo Oscaro among the confirmed entries.
Wanty’s Jerome Baugnies has won the past two editions of the 196.4km battle, while Russ Downing is the only British winner of the race to date after his victory in 2006.
Elverson’s troops will then march on to Holland for the Ronde van Midden Nederland on Sunday with defending champion Opie in their ranks.
Click here for the full result of the GP Stad Zottegem.