Milan - Britain's Geraint Thomas handed embattled Team Sky a welcome boost at the Tirreno-Adriatico by soloing to victory in the race's second stage, held over a mammoth 228km on Thursday.
Sky boss Dave Brailsford and retired star Bradley Wiggins, a former Tour de France winner and five-time Olympic track cycling champion, have been been under the spotlight in recent months amid an investigation into anti-doping practices.
The affair appeared to impact on Sky's performance in the opening stage team time-trial on Wednesday, when they trailed in nearly two minutes behind winners BMC over the relatively small distance of 22km.
It prompted Thomas to declare their overall victory ambitions at the race were "over", but the Welshman bounced back in style.
Thomas stayed with all the attacking moves in a thrilling finale before escaping from a four-man group in the final kilometres to cross the line in triumph in a time of 5hr 51min 44sec.
The chasing peloton, which had chased down his three former companions, crossed the finish around nine seconds later.
Thomas said: "My attack wasn't planned really. We just wanted to be well positioned in the steep part of the climb.
"We rode really hard and when Bob (Jungels) attacked, I was feeling ok and Kwiato (Michal Kwiatkowski) said on the radio 'have a go'!
"That's what I did. I didn't think it was going to stick until 150 metres to go but I'm pleased to get that win. We've worked really hard since November.
"I haven't raced since the Tour Down Under (in January) so I wasn't sure how I'd cope with the rhythm of the race after the training camp in South Africa."
Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet, the defending overall champion, finished fourth to take the race leader's blue jersey from BMC teammate Damiano Caruso ahead of Friday's third stage, held over 204km from Monterotondo Marittimo to Montalto di Castro.
"I'm disappointed because it was a very good stage for me to win," said Van Avermaet.
"It's nice to be in the leader's jersey but this is due to the strong performance of the team in yesterday's team time-trial.
"The team is doing well - to lead a big race is always a good thing."
Results from the second stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico, held over 228km between Camaiore and Pomarance on Thursday:
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR) Team Sky 5hr 51 min 44sec, 2. Tom Dumoulin (NED) at 9secs, 3. Peter Sagan (SVK) same time, 4. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) s.t., 5. Francesco Gavazzi (ITA) s.t., 6. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) s.t., 7. Adam Yates (GBR) s.t., 8. Rohan Dennis (AUS) s.t., 9. Nairo Quintana (COL) s.t., 10. Simon Clarke (AUS) s.t.
1. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) 6hr 15min 14sec, 2. Rohan Dennis (AUS) same time, 3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) s.t., 4. Damiano Caruso (ITA) s.t., 5. Niki Terpstra (NED) at 16secs, 6. Bob Jungels (LUX) s.t., 7. Nairo Quintana (COL) 21, 8. Daniel Moreno (ITA) s.t., 9. Sebastien Reichenbach (SUI) s.t., 10. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) s.t.
Selected: 19. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) 52, 21. Fabio Aru (ITA) 54, 25. Bauke Mollema (NED) 57, 29. Peter Sagan (SVK) 1min 06sec, 37. Geraint Thomas (GBR) 1:22