Team Sky kept their powder dry on stage one at the Tour of Oman but Sir Bradley Wiggins lost time behind a late crash.
A number of big names in the field including Team Sky’s Chris Froome and Wiggins were content to sit in the bunch on a day which had all the hallmarks of a sprint finish.
With no designated sprinter in the team a safe passage was the first objective ahead of five more stages in the Arab state.
The team all finished comfortably apart from Wiggins, who was forced to check up behind a crash with two kilometres remaining - arriving home one minute and 21 seconds down.
Despite the three kilometre rule being in place Wiggins was still docked time provisionally. Despite that disappointment team leader Froome finished safely in 53rd place and was awarded the same time as the stage winner.
At the line it was Marcel Kittel who opened his win account for 2013 with victory on stage one, the powerful German profited from work from his Argos-Shimano team during the day to take the opening stage and an early race lead.
Kittel held off the advances of Davide Appollonio (AG2R La Mondiale) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) in the grounds of Sultan Qaboos University to open up a four-second lead at the top of the standings.
Earlier the action kicked off on the coast with the peloton rolling out of Al Musannah ahead of 162 kilometres and a stage which looked tailor-made for the sprinters.
An early break met the approval of the bunch as Bobbie Traksel (Champion System) and Kohei Uchima (Japan National) built up a healthy advantage of 9:30 on the pack.
After cresting the single categorised climb of the day at Rustaq the gap was trimmed with Orica-GreenEDGE and Argos-Shimano patrolling the front of the peloton.
With none of the big names sticking their necks out to scoop the final bonus seconds things came back together in time for a sprint and a win for Kittel.
Back in the groove
After the stage we caught up with Sports Director Nicolas Portal who talked us through the late drama and also summed up what had, up to that point, been a quiet opening day.
He confirmed: “There was a crash with 2km to go. Bradley was not caught up in it but he was behind it and there was a little split in the peloton as the riders slowed down.
“The main idea today was to save energy and also to get back into the routine of racing after the long travel. Yesterday we went training but after the travel it was good to have a relatively easy stage like this on the flat with the sprinters’ teams controlling.
“Tomorrow I think we will more than likely see another sprint but possibly with different riders. In the last 25km there are two hills to climb, the last one coming with around 3km to go on the highway. We’ll see if any of the GC guys in the race want to have a hit out there.”