Arnaud Demare took top honours at key sprinter Milan-San Remo warm-up race Milano-Torino.
The Frenchman's tactically astute finish at the end of the 198km sprint fest aided by Groupama-FDJ pilot fish Jacopo Guarnieri proving the difference in the end.
“I came here knowing that I’m in good form with a competitive team that's performing better than ever before," the 2016 Milan-San Remo champion said. "I already realised at Vuelta a Burgos that our training camp had paid off.
"Winning today is important and it’s a good sign ahead of Milano-San Remo. As a team, we're feeling calm and confident."
Australian fast man Caleb Ewan was disappointed with second but took some encouragement from the sprint finsh.
“I still don’t like to come second, but I’m happy with how things went for my first race back after five months, especially ahead of Saturday."
"I was where I wanted to be in the last corner. My team got me in a good position. I just had to sprint for too long.”
Frederik Willems, Lotto Soudal director also offered some great post-sprint analysis of where Ewan lost the race.
"Sagan goes from really far out and Caleb reacts to Sagan (who) closes straight away the door for Demare.
"But that's the reason why Caleb is into the wind. And there he loses the race actually and Demare can take the slipstream off Sagan and take off and that's racing."
But Willems is encouraged by how strong Ewan and the team looked ahead of this Saturday's Monument.
"Of course we'd like to win (on Saturday) I saw a really good team. Focused. They were on the right spot so that gives us motivation but comparing to today, Saturday will be a totally different race.
"300 kilometres, lots more altitude metres and of course a hard final."
Philippe Gilbert, who is looking to add the only Monument missing from his palmares sounded ominously relaxed at the team bus.
"It was not an interesting race. It was a training race. It was super fast. Perfect."
The race was marred by a crash six kilometres from the finish but it did not disturb the run-in for the major contenders.
Still in god form from his victory at Strade Bianche, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) rounded out the podium with Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) finishing fourth.