It took some time for a break to stick after the race departed Denbigh, meaning the first sprint and climb were well contested.
Team Sky’s fourth-placed Ben Swift grabbed a bonus second at the first sprint in Mold, but Lotto-Soudal’s Tony Gallopin leapfrogged him overall by claiming two seconds.
Swift’s team-mate Nicolas Roche then claimed maximum KOM points at Rhydtalog and with Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) second on the climb, it leaves the two locked level on points in the mountains classification – though the Belgian will retain the jersey for now.
Finally, a four-man move was given licence to go clear, with British duo Matt Holmes (Madison-Genesis) and Rob Partridge (NFTO) joined by Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF) and Miguel Angel Benito (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).
They held an advantage consistently around the four-minute mark for much of the first half of the race, and it slowly edged closer to the five-minute mark which, for a time, meant Benito was the virtual race leader.
The peloton responded well, however, and as the advantage tumbled Tonelli decided to go it alone – with Ian Stannard, solo winner on stage three, among those driving the peloton to bring him back.
Counter-attacks followed from the bunch, however, with the three other escapees still between Tonelli and the peloton too – Movistar duo Gorka Izaguirre and Giovanni Visconti, Marco Marcato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Joachem Hoekstra (Giant-Alpecin) attempting to bridge across.
Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) also bridged across to the four chasers as they closed in on Holmes, Partridge and Benito with the peloton still in hot pursuit.