Team Sky's Ben Swift was a fine second to Kenny van Hummel on the opening stage of the Tour de Picardie, a 181km trek from Boué in northern France.
"Tomorrow is a slightly uphill finish and normally that suits Ben more so we're looking forward to that."
Steven de Jongh
Swift was given an ideal lead-out by his team-mates and hit the front on the slightly downhill closing straight in Doullens.
He so nearly held on to land the spoils but was just collared in the final few metres by Skil-Shimano's van Hummel.
It was a hugely-encouraging start to the three-stage race - Russell Downing also made the top 15 while four other men finished in the front group - and one which delighted Team Sky's DS Steven de Jongh.
He talked us through the day, saying: "There was a breakaway group which we helped chase down and then our guys hit the front and gave a really good lead-out to Ben.
"We'd already seen the finish at the start of the final circuit so that meant they knew exactly what was coming and they had a good plan.
"Ben was just beaten on the line after a great sprint with van Hummel. It was really close, only being decided in the last 10 metres or so. It was an excellent sprint by Ben and he had Danilo Napolitano, who won a stage last week at 4 Jours de Dunkerque, back in third."
That was echoed by Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha, making his first appearance since his superb third place at Paris-Roubaix, who told us: "It was perfect teamwork and a beautiful lead out."
Looking forward to weekend
The performance bodes well for the weekend and de Jongh already has his sights set on Saturday's second stage from Friville Escarbotin Belloy to Cires lès Mello.
He explained: "Tomorrow is a slightly uphill finish and normally that suits Ben more so we're looking forward to that."