Great Britain remained calm as their Olympic cycling road race rivals attempted to disrupt their plan to guide Mark Cavendish to the first home gold of the London 2012 Games.
A 12-man escape group led by more than five minutes and a dangerous chase group formed on the fourth of nine ascents of the Box Hill climb in Surrey, a pivotal point on the 250-kilometre route to The Mall.
Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, who finished third in the Tour de France behind Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, and classics specialist Philippe Gilbert of Belgium were among those who attacked in an effort to force Britain to chase.
However, Wiggins, Froome, road captain David Millar and Ian Stannard, riding in front of Cavendish, rode at their team leader's pace, content they could keep the deficit to a manageable margin.
Germany were also prominent at the front of the peloton, sharing the workload to keep the leaders within reach.