World Road Champion Mark Cavendish shrugged off a miserable day in the saddle to win the 159km fourth stage of the Tour of Britain.
It was a grim day but we ploughed through and waited until that moment 22km from home to split things apart. It was the perfect call.
Already a winner on Stage 3, Cavendish (Sky) came off a strong lead out by team-mate Luke Rowe to win the bunch sprint in Blackpool ahead of a pair of Australians, Steele Von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp) and race leader Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE).
"Bradley (Wiggins) lives not far from Blackpool and the route included a lot of the roads he uses for training," said Cavendish of the day's tactics.
"He told us it was very open, and very windy, and he knew the exact place we should go on the attack. It was the perfect call.
"It was a grim day but we ploughed through and waited until that moment 22km from home to split things apart."
The stage victory was enough to give Cavendish the general classification lead by six seconds over Howard. Boy van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) finished fourth on the stage to hold on to his third place.
A breakaway group of six rode out to a lead that almost touched seven minutes as Orica-GreenEDGE and Sky drove the peloton in chase.
Kristian House (Rapha-Condor), Dan Craven (IG-Sigma Sport), Niklas Gustavsson (UK Youth Cycling), David Le Lay (Saur-Sojasun), Ronan McLaughlin (An Post-Sean Kelly) and Mathew Cronshaw (Node 4-Giordana) shared the spoils of three king of the mountains and intermediate sprints on offer as they drove to the finish while the peloton chewed away at the time gap.
Of the breakaways, House had the most to gain. Heading into the stage leading the mountains classification, he used the escape to good advantage, picking up the maximum bonuses on each of the three climbs to extend his category lead.
At the 50km mark the break saw their lead cut to 2min 30sec as the peloton was teased with some breaks of sunshine peeking through the gloom of the heavy weather.
As the stage tightened, Cronshaw was the first of the escapees to break ranks, mounting a solo attack which thinned out the leading group.
His job done for the day, House, along with Gustavvson, dropped off while ahead the remaining four leaders nursed a rapidly diminishing lead.
With 25km left in the stage, Tour de France champion Wiggins and Sky used a windy, flat, open stretch of road to ride full gas, splitting the peloton to pieces.
Riding echelon, the effort by Sky succeeded in separating the majority of the peloton from the head of the race while Howard and his Orica-GreenEDGE team stayed close to their wheels.
The break was swallowed up with 10km left to run and the new leaders settled in for a final dogfight along the straight flat finish into Blackpool.
Cavendish had the team numbers as the leaders flew under the 1km kite but it was Howard who made the first move with the finish line in sight.
With only metres of road left in front of him Howard faded just as Cavendish raised his speed, going on to win his second Tour of Britain stage in a row by a solid margin.
Stage 4: 156km, Carlisle to Blackpool
1 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Sky 3hr 51min 33sec
2 Steele Von Hoff (AUS) Garmin-Sharp
3 Leigh Howard (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE
4 Boy Van Poppel (NED) UnitedHealthcare
5 Daniel Schorn (AUT) Team NetApp
6 Russell Downing (GBR) Endura
7 Magnus Backstedt (SWE) UK Youth Cycling
8 Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) Garmin-Sharp
9 Rony Martias (FRA) Saur-Sojasun
10 Luke Rowe (GBR) Sky
1 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Sky 17hr 07min 51sec
2 Leigh Howard (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:06
3 Boy Van Poppel (NED) UnitedHealthcare 0:00:14
4 Luke Rowe (GBR) Sky
5 Rony Martias (FRA) Saur-Sojasun 0:00:20
6 Steele Von Hoff (AUS) Garmin-Sharp
7 Russell Downing (GBR) Endura Racing 0:00:22
8 Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:26
9 Nathan Haas (AUS) Garmin-Sharp
10 Yanto Barker (GBR) UK Youth Cycling 0:00:27