Michael Albasini retained the yellow jersey despite the best efforts of his Vacansoleil rivals on the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain in Teignmouth.
Wouter Poels won the stage for the Dutch team narrowly ahead of fellow Vacansoleil rider Borut Bozic.
But Albasini added two seconds to his lead after finishing 10 seconds clear of Team Sky's Greg Henderson.
Saxo Bank's Riche Porte is now the HTC-Columbia rider's closest rival with one minute 28 seconds separating the pair.
Vacansoleil's attempts to mount a serious challenge to Albasini through Johnny Hoogerland were foiled as the 27-year-old's early attack alongside Garmin's Daniel Martin and Team Sky's Matthew Hayman petered out.
The peloton reeled in the early pacesetters with 9 miles left before Poels and Bozic emerged to take victory.
The race is now at its halfway point with the riders tackling 109 miles between Tavistock and Glastonbury on Wednesday in the first of the final four stages.
Stage Four Results:
1. Wout Poels (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) 4hrs 30mins 35secs 2. Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) at 0.05secs 3. Koen De Kort (Skil - Shimano) at same time 4. Jack Bauer (Endura Racing) at same time 5. Patrick Sinkewitz (ISD -Neri Giambenini) at same time 6. Richie Porte (Team Saxo Bank) at same time 7. Michael Albasini (Team HTC - Columbia) at same time 8. Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) at same time 9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago - CSF Inox) at 0.11 10. Alex Ramussen (Team Saxo Bank) at 0.15
1. Michael Albasini (HTC-Columbia) 15hrs 27mins 41secs 2. Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) at 1:28 3. Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) at 1:32 4. Greg Henderson (Team Sky) at 1:36 5. Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) at 1:42.
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