Team Sky safely negotiated stage one at Bayern Rundfahrt to ensure the team’s contenders sit in a strong position.
The opening test from Traunstein to Penzberg always looked like ending in a bunch sprint but with the team taking to the start in Germany with a squad looking to replicate their overall victory in 2011, the emphasis was on the bigger picture.
The team worked well during the day to keep tabs on a break which, at one point, opened out a hefty advantage of almost 15 minutes.
They also had to deal with a mechanical problem for Michael Rogers with 80km remaining but coming into the finishing circuits it was all back together and set up for a bunch sprint.
That went to Alessandro Petacchi, the experienced Italian (Lampre-ISD) holding off Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ-BigMat) on the line to pull on the first leader’s yellow jersey of the race.
The 38-year-old’s Lampre-ISD squad took it up inside the final 10 kilometres and were repaid with a victory at the end of a tough 215.7km test.
Time bonuses on the line elevated Petacchi to a four-second lead at the top of the standings with four stages remaining while Christian Knees led home Team Sky in 18th.
In an attacking start it was David Boucher (FDJ-BigMat) who headed up the road after just six kilometres, eventually joined by German trio Alexander Schmitt (Nutrixxion), Jasha Sutterlin (Thuringer Energie) and Steffen Radochla (NSP) ahead of the day’s opening sprint.
The gap to the quartet spun out to almost 15 minutes as the peloton relaxed but Team Sky did plenty of the early work before Orica-GreenEDGE and Argos-Shimano then moved toward the front as the break were caught at the 40km to go mark on the undulating run-in to Penzberg.
Inevitably new attacks fired off ahead of three laps of the finishing circuit but all were hauled back by a determined Lampre to set Petacchi up for his first win of the season.
After the stage Sports Director Sean Yates admitted that with no sprinters in the squad the team spent the day looking at the bigger picture.
He said: "We’ve got a good chance of winning the overall and today no one seemed willing to chase the break down. I rallied around the WorldTour teams and eventually the teams put a man up each to chase it down. It had got up to 15 minutes at one point and no one was moving. It’s unrealistic to think one team is going to ride for 200k.
"We’ve got no sprinters here so we weren't going to play a part in the finale but Petacchi showed he still has some speed in those legs.
"The important thing for us today was for the guys to finish safe and not lose time which we’ve done and we’re looking forward to tomorrow where we could see more of a selection."