Team Sky endured a difficult opening stage at the Critérium International with Thomas Löfkvist leading the squad home in 35th position.
Löfkvist and Kjell Carlström's travel plans had been severely disrupted in the day prior to the race, and despite starting well, the Swede blew up with around five kilometres to go on the final climb of the day.
It was Bbox-Bouygues rider Pierrick Fedrigo who emerged victorious after moving clear of Tiago Machado (RadioShack) in the final kilometre and crossing the line 15 seconds ahead of his Portuguese rival.
A strong field had assembled at the start of the 175.5km stage in Porto Vecchio and Cedric Pineau (Roubaix Lille Metropole) and Albert Timmer (Skil Shimano) were the first riders to make their attack stick after 10km.
In the space of just 15km the duo were allowed to build a whopping 10-minute advantage on the peloton before BMC, Euskaltel and Astana eventually reacted and worked together effectively to reel the duo back in after 110km.
French trio Brice Feillu (Vacansoleil), Dimitri Champion (AG2R) and Pierre Rolland (BBOx) were the next riders to try their hand and they stayed away until the final climb of the day on the Col de l'Ospedale, with Astana again proving influential in their demise.
Despite the best efforts of his team-mates, Alberto Contador was unable to capitalise and instead it was Fedrigo and Machado who battled to the front with 2km to go. Fedrigo proved too strong for his challenger though and after attacking under the flamme rouge stayed clear at the line to claim both the victory and leader's yellow jersey.
Löfkvist ended the day two minutes 37 seconds off the pace with Sylvain Calzati a further minute and 14 seconds adrift in 48th.
Yates rues bad luck
After the race, sports director Sean Yates was left to rue a string of bad fortune but was still hopeful the team could rouse themselves for a concerted attack on the final two stages on Sunday.
He said: "It could have gone a lot better today. Thomas had looked strong in the early part of the race but was suffering a lot in the last five kilometres. He was our main hope for the general classification, and also for today's stage, but blew up after a very disruptive travel schedule on Friday to get here.
"Thomas and Kjell's flight from Zurich was delayed as Nice airport was closed, and that meant he missed his connecting flight into Corsica and didn't get onto the island until around 10pm last night. Even then it was a two-hour drive to our hotel so by the time he got to bed it was well after midnight.
"That also meant they weren't able to eat properly and that definitely played a part as well.
"To make things worse, Simon Gerrans had a bad back and Morris Possoni was also suffering from stomach cramps. We had high hopes but you can't win them all though and I suppose it could have been even worse."
Sunday begins with a flat, 75km stage around Porto-Vecchio before a 7.7km time trial in the afternoon to round off the contest nicely.
With a general classification challenge now all but over for Team Sky, Yates is hoping sprint specialist Russell Downing can put on a strong showing in the morning to raise the team's morale.
He added: "Unfortunately for Thomas, tomorrow's first stage will be a virtual procession for the GC riders as it's so flat. They leaders will all be controlling each other and no-one will be gaining massive amounts of time.
"It should certainly be more to Russell's liking though as a sprinter. It's a shorter, punchy stage and hopefully he'll be ready to go and get a good placing.
"In the afternoon time trial we don't really have any specialists but the likes of Cadel Evans, Michael Rogers and Samuel Sanchez will all be in the mix so it should be an interesting finale for the neutral."