Mathew Hayman led home Team Sky in fifth place in Wednesday evening’s prologue at the Tour de Luxembourg.
The powerful Australian clocked three minutes and 53 seconds on the twisting 2.7 kilometres course around the old quarter of the nation’s capital which also featured cobbled sections and a short, steep climb towards the finish.
That was 11 seconds behind winner Fabian Cancellara, the world and Olympic time trial champion.
Riding for Luxembourg-based Leopard Trek, Swiss star Cancellara was the penultimate rider in the field and had the target of 3:47 to beat, which had been set much earlier in the evening by Team Europcar’s Damien Gaudin.
And Cancellara was more than up to the task as he slashed five seconds off Gaudin’s time to take the leader’s yellow jersey into Thursday’s first stage proper which sees the riders cover 192.8km from Luxembourg to Bascharage.
Gaudin’s consolation prize was the best young rider’s white jersey, while Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur - Sojasun) rounded off the podium in third place.
In all 22 riders dipped under four minutes, including Ian Stannard (11th) and Alex Dowsett (22nd) who tweeted: "Got everything out this evening, technically good, paced it good just need some of that sprinty stuff to have got me up the climb quicker!"
Greg Henderson (38th), Davide Appollonio (42nd), Jeremy Hunt (45th), Chris Froome (47th) and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (64th) complete Team Sky's eight-man line up for the five-day race.
Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist, a winner of the Tour de Luxembourg in 2002, was more than satisfied with the squad's start to the race.
He told us: "Mathew Hayman produced a really good ride and I'm happy for him. Ian and Alex were up there too - it was a really steep climb at the end on the cobbles and it was one for the power riders but everyone acquited themselves well.
"Looking ahead to the week it's a really good opportunity for everyone to take their own chances as and when they appear. If it comes to a bunch sprint then Greg's the man that everyone will get behind and work for.
"But the racing involves a lot of up short climbs - it will be aggressive and we want to be involved in the attacks. Everyone has a chance to do something for themselves rather than us going into this with one set plan. We'll go for the stages but with the GC we'll take that a little bit as it comes."