Edvald Boasson Hagen spearheaded a fine Team Sky performance on the first stage proper of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
The Norwegian finished sixth behind Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma - Lotto) who had powered away from his rivals on the fourth and final climb of the day up to Saint Pierre de Chartreuse.
Bradley Wiggins was to the fore as well in a select front group, crossing the line in 11th, and he and Boasson Hagen are now fourth and fifth respectively on the general classification which is led by Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana). Boasson Hagen tops the young rider standings.
The 144 kilometres stage from Albertville really came to life on the last climb shortly after a three-man break of Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), Vincent Jérôme (Europcar) and Sven Vandousselaere (Omega Pharma - Lotto), which had gone clear just 22km into the route, had been reeled in.
From that point onwards the pace up front started to shred the field on the 4.8% gradient for the final 7.8km, with Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC - Highroad) the first man to jump clear before both Van den Broeck and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) bridged the gap.
And just as the front group of around 20 riders looked poised to bring things back together 3.6km from the finish, Van den Broeck went again and this time it proved decisive.
He soon had a gap of around 10 seconds and was able to ease down in sight of the line and celebrate his victory, eventually having six seconds to spare over Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) a second further back in third.
Vinokourov (Astana) crossed the line in fourth and he takes over the leader's yellow jersey, five seconds in front of Van den Broeck, with Evans (+7) in third, Wiggins (+11) fourth and Boasson Hagen (+13) fifth. Juan Antonio Flecha and Geraint Thomas are also in the top 25 on the GC after finishing 31st and 35th respectively on the stage.
Also in the mix on an encouraging day for Team Sky was Rigoberto Urán who had helped drive the front group on the concluding climb before dropping back to finish 43rd.
So far so good
So it was no surprise that when we caught up with Sports Director Sean Yates he was more than happy with how the day panned out, saying: The guys were in the game beforehand and are very much still in the mix after what was a good, short, fast, hard stage – or certainly the final was.
"The winner obviously did a fantastic ride and behind him it was pretty much a straight-out drag race between the rest of the field.
"So it was good to see that Brad and Eddy were there, while Rigoberto did some work and really took it on.
"Edvald showed he had good power yesterday in the prologue when he was a bit unlucky with the conditions he had to endure and he proved that again today. All in all then it was a good day and it's looking pretty rosy heading towards the TT on Wednesday."
Before then Tuesday's second stage sees the riders cover 179km from Voiron to Lyon which finishes on the category four-rated Côte de la Croix-Rousse.