Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish lost the IG Markets gold jersey as the Tour of Britain made its way into Stoke-on-Trent.
It was Marc De Maar who escaped to victory, the national champion of Curacao (UnitedHealthcare) putting in the most impressive of a number of late attacks, pushing on from his fellow escapees with six kilometres to go.
The win was made all the more impressive with De Maar having only just picked himself up off the ground following a crash on the run-in to Stoke-on-Trent.
Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Sharp) won the sprint from the bunch 15 seconds later to take second, while former race leader Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) took third to narrow his deficit to the race leader.
That honour went to Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE), the Australian taking sixth on the line but moving back into the race lead by a slender margin.
Mark Cavendish had begun the day in the IG Markets gold jersey with an advantage of six seconds, but soon found himself tailed off on the toughest test of the race thus far.
The peloton visited Stoke for the fifth straight year with a 147km loop on the menu over lumpy terrain surrounding the Potteries.
Under brighter skies than the two previous days, the break took a while to stick as the race headed out of the city via the Italian Gardens.
The peloton were all together as the riders arrived at the first bonus sprint of the day, Howard taking three seconds with the win to cut his advantage to Cavendish. Luke Rowe (Team Sky) took second to also move himself closer to the overall lead.
Eventually the combination of Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), Bartosz Huzarski (Team NetApp) and Bernard Sulzberger (Raleigh) made a move stick, the gap opening out to over two minutes but not much further.
Team Sky controlled things during the day, yet with both of his counterparts eventually dropping away from the breakaway on the undulating terrain it was left to Basso to attack the final 50km of the race solo.
As Basso kicked on the peloton behind began to shatter, the race blowing to pieces and sending Cavendish out the back of the bunch. Bradley Wiggins opted to drop out the lead group to wait for the world champion.
A select group of 27 riders going went clear on the exposed, rolling terrain on the approach to the final categorised climb of the day. The first-category Gun Hill saw Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura) come to the fore, cresting the climb first and staying away briefly before being reeled back in.
With 15km remaining, and a gap of over five minutes to what was left of the peloton, a number of accelerations fired out of the lead group in a bid to further split the race, De Maar making it stick to take the biggest win of his career.
Photos and reaction to follow
Stage Five, The Stoke-on-Trent Stage, 147km
1) Marc De Maar, AHO, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, 3:30:26
2) Sep Vanmarcke, BEL, Garmin - Sharp, + 0.15
3) Boy Van Poppel, NED, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, same time
4) Nathan Haas, AUS, Garmin - Sharp, same time
5) Leigh Howard, AUS, Orica GreenEDGE, same time
Rouleur Combativity Award: Ivan Basso, Liquigas - Cannondale
IG Gold Jersey, General Classification, after Stage Five
1) Leigh Howard, AUS, Orica GreenEDGE, 20:38:35
2) Boy Van Poppel, NED, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, + 0.07
3) Sep Vanmarcke, BEL, Garmin - Sharp, + 0.17
4) Nathan Haas, AUS, Garmin - Sharp, + 0.23
5) Christian Knees, GER, Team Sky, + 0.24
Chain Reaction Cycles Points Classification, after Stage Five
1) Boy Van Poppel, NED, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, 61pts
2) Leigh Howard, AUS, Orica GreenEDGE, 53pts
3) Mark Cavendish, GBR, Team Sky, 44pts
4) Russell Downing, GBR, Endura Racing, 44pts
5) Luke Rowe, GBR, Team Sky, 39pts
SKODA King of the Mountains Classification, after Stage Five
1) Kristian House, GBR, Rapha Condor, 66pts
2) Pablo Urtasun, SPA, Euskaltel - Euskadi, 44pts
4) Peter Williams, GBR, Node4 - Giordana Racing, 32pts
4) Richard Handley, GBR, Rapha Condor, 32pts
5) Bernard Sulzberger, AUS, Team Raleigh - GAC, 31pts
Yodel Sprints Classification, after Stage Five
1) Peter Williams, GBR, Node4 - Giordana Racing, 29pts
2) Matt Cronshaw, GBR, Node4 - Giordana Racing, 13pts
3) Rony Martias, FRA, Saur Sojasun, 12pts
4) Kristian House, GBR, Rapha Condor, 10pts
5) Bartosz Huzarski, POL, Team NetApp, 8pts
Team General Classification, after Stage Five
1) Saur Sojasun, FRA, 62:00:45
2) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, USA, + 1.14
3) Garmin - Sharp, USA, + 2.30
4) Endura Racing, GBR, + 3.41
5) Team NetApp, GER, + 7.39