Bradley Wiggins powered to a sensational sprint victory on stage one at the Tour de Romandie to move into the race lead and claim back-to-back victories for Team Sky.
The British national champion unleashed a superb turn of speed heading into the finish in La Chaux-de-Fonds, hitting out with 400 metres to go and holding on to take a resounding victory.
Bonus seconds on the line saw the yellow jersey change hands within Team Sky, with Wiggins moving to the top of the general classification by seven seconds from team-mate Michael Rogers.
Two tough categorised climbs heading into the finale saw the peloton split to pieces with a reduced bunch contesting the finish.
The 31-year-old looked comfortable as he hopped from wheel to wheel, shutting down attacks before claiming a rare bunch victory, edging out Paris-Nice rival Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Paolo Tiralongo (Astana).
The success was even sweeter for the team after they had been forced to battle back from a puncture for Wiggins with 25km to go, requiring the team to drop back and pace their leader to the front.
After the finish Wiggins explained how the stage had panned out, saying: "I had a lot of adrenaline after I punctured with 25k to go. When that happened the boys dropped back for me and did a fantastic job.
"Then in the final I was kind of on my own and marshalling everything and I just wanted to pay them back for everything they’d done, they were incredible. I’ve got them to thank and it was really nice to be able to finish it off like that.
"I went a bit early and had to sit down to rest for a bit and then went again but it was good to get the win!
"I want to win Romandie, that’s for sure. I’ll take what I can every day and it’s really nice to win a sprint like this because normally I only ever really win time trials."
With numerous attacks firing off the front, things came back together with 14km to go after a powerful comeback as what was left of the peloton reached the final third category ascent.
Heading onto the finishing straight Wiggins put the power down and was able to raise his arms in victory for one of the best and most surprising wins of his career.
Earlier as the peloton rolled out of Morges four riders chipped off the front – the gap rising to a shade over five minutes with Martin Kohler (BMC Racing), Kenny De Haes (Lotto-Belisol), Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) and Angelo Tulik (Europcar) working together well.
An undulating profile meant there was a degree of uncertainty over whether the stage would end in a bunch sprint on what the first road stage of the six-day event.
With the yellow jersey in their ranks on the shoulders of Geraint Thomas, Team Sky took to the front in numbers, placing all eight riders at the head of the bunch to make an impressive sight in the Swiss countryside.
Thomas and world champion Mark Cavendish slipped backwards as the peloton hit the second category Haut de la Cote as a number of riders looked to jump clear as the breakaway members were reeled in.
Wiggins moved to the front in the wheel of Michael Rogers, the Australian resplendent in the green points jersey, before things exploded at the front of the peloton to set up one of the most exciting finishes of the season so far.
After the stage Sports Director Sean Yates was full of praise for the work the team had shown during a tough day in Switzerland.
He said: “The team worked really well. With Brad’s incident in the last 20k we needed some strong guys to get him back in the game and they were there for him. I think that motivated him and, he said it himself, to give it a go. If you don’t try then you don’t know. He tried and he won so it’s another 10 seconds in the bag for GC, plus the stage and the jersey to boot.
“It’s a good day for the team. We’ve just got to keep our feet on the ground and continue as we are – plugging away. We came here for the GC and we’ve won the first two stages. Other teams will be looking at us even more now. It’s not easy.
“The stage was up for grabs. It was evident the climb was hard and guys were all over the place. It was pretty much a free-for-all, certainly in the final 15k. The evidence was there on TV as everyone was having a go. It’s only going to get harder from here on in.”