A tricky, uphill finish on a small section of cobbles proved difficult enough to split the pack at Tirreno-Adriatico, with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) proving he is in good form ahead of the Classics.
The Slovakian ace has big ambitions for the spring, and is coming into form nicely as his stunning acceleration to win the stage proved.
Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), another with ambitions for the coming months, got to test his legs too, while the chief GC contenders ensured they stayed safe with big summit finishes to come.
Michal Kwiatkowski now leads overall, with a ten second advantage over his Omega Pharma-Quickstep team-mate Rigoberto Uran, but what did we learn from the stage.
Read our five observations over the following pages, and add your own in the RCUK Forum.