The Welshman followed an early move in the opening exchanges of the 125-kilometre stage three and quickly found himself in a three-man group off the front.
Doull grasped the opportunity to race hard with both hands, but the strong sprint teams out in China brought the escapees to heel inside the final 10km, with Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Floors) taking the day's honours.
"It wasn’t really the plan to get someone in the break today but I followed an early move and before I knew it we were away," explained the Welshman. "I committed to it then and thought, why not? It’s always good to give it a try and it was nice to be out front, making the most of racing at this time of the year.
"It’s late in the season but if I’m here I’m going to commit to it, make the most of it and race as hard as possible."
The race is likely to be decided on tomorrow’s summit finish and the team are all in for Gianni Moscon, who arrived in China off the back of some of the most impressive performances of his career.
The Italian added Coppa Agostini and Giro della Toscana to his palmares before retaining his Italian national time trial title in early October. It could have been more too: fifth in the thrilling Worlds road race and third at Coppa Sabatini showed a man in top form.