Mark Cavendish took the first blue jersey of the 2014 Tirreno-Adriatico after world team time trial champions Omega Pharma-Quickstep blew their rivals away against the clock on stage one.
Cavendish led the team across the finishing line to ensure he moved into the overall lead after the Belgian team finished 11 seconds clear of Orica-GreenEDGE.
A huge shift at the front from world champion Tony Martin helped the team – who also carry overall ambitions with Michal Kwiatkowski and Rigoberto Uran in their ranks – clock 20 minutes and 13 seconds on the 18.5km course.
Nearest challengers Orica-GreenEDGE, who had five of their world championship silver medallists in their line-up, had set the benchmark of 20’24”, but were forced to settle for second.
Team Sky, meanwhile, finished in sixth place, 27 seconds off the pace.
African wildcard team MTN-Qhubeka were first down the ramp, recovering from a slight wobble on their way onto the course to set the early benchmark of 21’32”.
Fellow wildcard team IAM Cycling, second off the ramp, shed 29 seconds off the time, while Astana, the first WorldToru team, onto the course crossed in 21’07”.
BMC Racing, with Cadel Evans among them, stopped the clock in 21 minutes dead to move into the lead but Orica-GreenEDGE underlined their undoubted ability in the discipline to set a new leading time.
When Team Sky crossed the line they were third overall, but Movistar – with British time trial champion Alex Dowsett in their ranks – were among the teams to beat them, with Dowsett visibly disappointed to have finished seven seconds down on Orica-GreenEDGE.
It was not to matter anyway, as it quickly became apparent Omega Pharma-Quickstep were once again going to take a win in the discipline as Cavendish sat patiently on the back wheel in the final kilometres.
And when Tony Martin peeled off after his turn, the Manx Missile came to the front to lead the team over the line. The result is a repeat of last year’s opening stage for the British champion, who wore the blue jersey for three stages as a result.
As well as putting Cavendish in the blue jersey, Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s performance on the opening day also ensures Uran and Kwiatkowski hold leads over their GC rivals, having gained 24 seconds on Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and a further three seconds on Richie Porte (Team Sky).
Tirreno-Adriatico: stage one (team time trial) – result
1) Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 20.13
2) Orica-GreenEDGE +11”
3) Movistar +18”
4) Tinkoff-Saxo +24”
5) Cannondale +26”
6) Team Sky +27”
7) Lotto-Belisol +28”
8) Trek Factory Racing +36”
9) Belkin Pro Cycling +37”
10) FDJ.fr +43”
1) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 20.13
2) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – ST
3) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4) Mark Renshaw (AUS) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
5) Wout Poels (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
6) Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +2″
7) Tony Martin (GER) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +3″
8) Daryl Impey (SAF) – Orica-GreenEDGE +11″
9) Simon Clarke (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
10) Luke Durbridge (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE