Michael Rogers ended an eventful first day of the Critérium International in Corsica in a close-up second place.
Team Sky were to the fore throughout the opening 89.5 kilometres stage and the afternoon individual time trial which followed it, both of which took place around Porto-Vecchio which will host the start of the Tour de France in 2013.
Former world time trial champion on three occasions, Rogers so nearly won the 6.5km TT, finishing just 0.3 seconds behind current Tour de France champion and fellow Australian Cadel Evans who was notching BMC Racing's first victory of the season.
Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist was delighted to see Rogers in form after a short spell on the sidelines, telling us: "That was close – it was stressful in the car! I think everyone is so happy to see him back on that level but it’s always frustrating to be that close to a win."
Evans and Rogers, who were both in the lead group of 44 riders in the morning, now sit top of the general classification heading into a tough final stage on Sunday.
Team Sky are fielding a reduced team of six owing to injuries but all the riders have already made their mark.
Thomas Löfkvist (8th), Luke Rowe (9th), Chris Froome (13th) and Lars-Petter Nordhaug (16th) are in the top 20 overall and within 13 seconds of Evans after strong performances in both the time trial and the first stage, with Rowe also topping the young rider standings.
“Luke was excellent and his efforts today have been rewarded with the white jersey but they’ve all ridden superbly and we have the numbers up there for tomorrow now - it's just seconds we're talking about," added Ljungqvist.
Team Sky had also gone incredibly close earlier in the day as Salvatore Puccio would have been right in the mix in the morning's sprint but for being brought down along with Nordhaug in a late spill.
The whole team had helped splinter the peloton just after the halfway mark, with BMC Racing and RadioShack-Nissan also heavily represented in the front selection. They drove the gap up as much as they could thereafter, resulting in a lead of 49 seconds on the rest.
However both Puccio, who had been going for the sprint, and Nordhaug were then stopped by a crash within sight of the line as Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Schuller) took the stage win.
Ljungqvist explained: "It had all gone perfectly to plan but then we just had some bad luck at the end when Lars-Petter and Salvatore were caught up in a crash - both are okay though and no one is hurt which is the main thing.
"Before that they had ridden so well. We had a plan to try to split it with about 40k to go and it worked out exactly as we wanted, with the front group down to around 45 riders.
"We were then going to go for the win with Salvatore as Luke had said earlier he didn't feel 100% for the sprint. Instead he gave everything to driving the gap between the two groups. They both did great and it's just too bad it didn't quite work out at the end."
It means the race will all come down to a testing up-and-down stage on Sunday which finishes with a 14km ascent of the Col de l'Ospedale.
Looking at what lies ahead, Ljungqvist said: "BMC will try and control it - it’s going to be a hard start with four climbs in the first 80km.
“It will be a tough day but they’ve changed it a little bit compared to last year - now we have that tougher start but then it eases off a bit which means the chances are a bigger group will come to that final climb.
"That's when it will really be 'game on'; the guys are in good condition so we’ll try with everything we have."