Cadel Evans’ BMC team picked up where they left off as the Tour de France defending champion moved into the top 10 overall on Sunday.
BMC again displayed the faultless teamwork that was crucial last year when Evans became the first Australian Tour winner.
They helped Evans stay out of trouble and he finished 20th in the 198km first stage from Liege to Seraing in Belgium.
While his time gap to race leader Fabian Cancellara remained at 17 seconds, Evans improved from 13th to eighth on the general classification.
But most significantly he remains 10 seconds behind race favourite Brad Wiggins, who is second overall, and four seconds behind fellow title contender Russian Denis Menchov (sixth).
“We were well-positioned and so on and the team kept me out of trouble all day, that’s probably the first thing,” Evans said.
“The team is working well and functioning well and I’m glad to get one road stage done and the routine going.”
German Marcus Burghardt, one of Evans’ top lieutenants, performed an impressive manoeuvre to avoid a potential crash in the closing kilometres.
Burghardt was at the front of the peloton, helping drive the pace, when he spotted a water bottle on the road and used his front wheel to flick the bottle away.
“Marcus took me along on the last flat section there to the bridge (approaching the final climb),” Evans said.
“We were doing 74 km/h just to move up on the flat.”