Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) was one of the highest-profile riders brought down in a crash, with no shortage of surface water even after the sleet and rain briefly eased, but Etixx-QuickStep took charge of the bunch and kept the pace high.
Movistar opted to defend from the front meanwhile, sending Carlos Betancur up the road with less than 20km to ride, just as the weather took another turn for the worse.
When the Colombian’s short-lived dig was brought back, Andriy Grivko (Astana) was next to try his luck before Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) went to the front and started pulling hard.
On the Cote de Saint-Nicolas it was Betancur who attacked again, but again his move was countered and it was Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) who made the more telling acceleration – thinning the bunch in the process.
Over the top and onto the new finishing route, it was Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Diego Rosa (Astana) with a gap – though the Russian’s uncertainty on a short, cobbled street slowed his momentum.
Gaps had formed further back, and the peloton was lined out, but there was still a decent-sized group of riders in contention as they reached the new cobbled climb of Rue Naniot.
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) led the way up the climb, with Jon Izagirre (Movistar) on his wheel before Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) took over and upped the pace further.
The Swiss rider’s effort thinned the bunch further, and served to earn a four-rider move a gap – Albasini joined by Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing) and Wout Poels (Team Sky).
Albasini still led the quartet under the flamme rouge, but there was plenty of looking over shoulders at the encroaching peloton and little co-operation.
Poels finally took over the pace-setting inside the final 500 metres, with Zakarin trying to bridge across, but the quartet stayed clear as they rounded the final left-hand bend.
Poels opened the sprint out, followed by Alabasini, but the day’s efforts took their toll on the leaders and the Dutchman celebrated a huge victory for Team Sky.