Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen was fourth on his seasonal reappearance behind Rabobank's Theo Bos on the opening stage of the Tour of Oman.
Dutchman Bos took the leader's red jersey after he pipped Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) at the end of the 158 kilometres route from Al Sawadi to Al Seeb.
The stage had been shaped by a three-man breakaway group, with Tanel Kangert (Astana), Mark McNally (An Post-Sean Kelly) and Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen) having a lead of just under five minutes at one point.
But the sprinters' teams came to the fore in the second half of the stage to help reel them in with 10km remaining and it led to a thrilling finish in Al Seeb.
A strong tailwind led to a frantic finale and Norway's Boasson Hagen, who won two stages in Oman 12 months ago, was just edged out for the final podium spot by Roger Kluge (Skil-Shimano).
Russell Downing (eighth) and Mathew Hayman (10th) were also to the fore to help elevate Team Sky to the top of the initial team standings.
Chris Sutton, Ian Stannard, Juan Antonio Flecha, Jeremy Hunt and Kurt-Asle Arvesen all finished in the main group and were credited with the same time.
Story of the day
We caught up with Sports Director Servais Knaven afterwards and he talked us through how the day panned out for his riders.
Of the finish he explained: "It was a little chaotic as the whole peloton was together and still quite fresh. Our riders were all lined up together but then a kilometre-and-a-half before the line there was a roundabout and a right turn and they lost each other a little bit which also happened to most of the other teams."
Boasson Hagen still managed to get himself in the mix and Knaven added: "Edvald produced a really good sprint and moved up many places in the closing stages - but not quite enough to win the stage.
"He's healthy, strong and motivated and even though this is his first race of the season he seems to be on an excellent level which is a good sign.
"The other guys are all good even though it's been quite a tiring trip for many of them - either straight on from Qatar or flying in from Australia.
"Today was already a good performance but I expect them all to get better every day. It's Edvald's first race and in Qatar the guys didn't get to do a lead-out for the sprint so for many this is their first opportunity of the season. We'll continue to work hard for Edvald - and the time-trial on Saturday should suit him too."
It was former Paris-Roubaix winner Knaven's first day in charge as a DS for Team Sky and it's an experience he thoroughly enjoyed - even if the length of his working days may take a bit of getting used to. "It's a bit different to being a rider," he told us. "I started work at 7.30 this morning and it's only now at 9.30 in the evening that I've just about got everything done!"
Wednesday's second stage takes the riders 139km from The Wave resort in Muscat to Al Wutayya.