Mark Cavendish’s challenge once again faltered as Germany’s Max Walscheid won stage three of the Tour de Yorkshire.
The Dimension Data rider had targeted the flat finish in Scarborough as one he could potentially win but he was dropped on a climb 50km from the end.
Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel broke clear with 5km remaining but he was caught 300m from the line on the seafront.
Walscheid won the sprint, beating Magnus Cort Nielsen into second but the Dane extended his overall race lead.
Nielsen, who won stage two’s summit finish on Ilkley Moor, showed his sprinting prowess at the seaside, overtaking Britain’s Adam Blythe and Frenchman Bryan Coquard in the closing 200m but he was then pipped by Team Sunweb’s Walscheid.
The 24-year-old German said: “The stage designers did a really good job. The route was demanding but it still finished in a sprint royale and it was spectacular for the spectators.
“I’ve ridden famous races like Paris-Roubaix before but never seen crowds like that. This win was one of the proudest moments of my career.”
Astana rider Nielsen’s second place meant he picked up bonus seconds to extend his lead in the race to 10 seconds over Belgian Greg van Avermaet with just one stage remaining.
It was another enthralling day’s racing which meandered through the North York Moors after leaving Richmond.
Five riders broke clear early on in the 181km race but they were never allowed a lead of more than three minutes by a peloton wary that the break stayed clear on Thursday’s opening stage.
Cavendish was in the peloton until the race broke apart on the final categorised climb of the day – the Cote de Silpho – when BMC Racing upped the pace and he was dropped.
Further attacks followed on the run-in to Scarborough, the most significant of which was Chavanel’s.
And the 38-year-old Direct Energie rider looked set to emulate his former team-mate Thomas Voeckler who claimed his final victory in Scarborough in 2016.
He led by a handful of seconds going into the final kilometre but his efforts ultimately proved futile with Spain’s Jon Aberasturi in third.
Sunday’s finale promises to be a gruelling race from Halifax to Leeds, featuring six categorised climbs.
Stage three result:
1. Max Walscheid (Ger/Team Sunweb) 4hrs, 10mins, 27secs
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den/Astana) Same time
3. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa/ uskadi Basque Country-Murias)
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra/Vital Concept)
5. Robert-Jon McCarthy (Ire/JLT Condor)
General Classification after stage three:
1. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den/Astana) 11hrs 44mins 02secs
2. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) +10secs
3. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa/Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) +12secs
4. Colin Joyce (US/Rally Cycling) +21 secs