Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick-Step) moved into an early race lead at the 2015 Paris-Nice, winning Sunday’s prologue narrowly ahead of Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC).
Having started an hour-and-a-half ahead of the Polish time trial champion, Dennis’s time of 7-40 on the 6.7km course was starting to look unbeatable, with even three-time world time trial champion Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) coming up short by seven seconds.
But Kwiatkowski was able to maintain his average speed of over 52kmph on the course to pip Hour Record holder Dennis to the win and the leader’s yellow jersey by just under half-a-second.
Meanwhile, current world time trial champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) was unable to match the pace set by the eventual winner, finishing 15 seconds behind and just outside the top 10 in 12th.
Teammate Geraint Thomas finished one second ahead of his compatriot in 10th, as well as another Sky rider in Richie Porte who ended his run in the same time as Wiggins.
The week-long race now heads to its first road stage, with a 196.5km route from Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse to Contres, that looks almost certain to end in a bunch sprint.
Paris-Nice 2015 prologue, Maurepas to Maurepas, 6.7km (and overall)
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx-Quick-Step, in 7-40
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC, same time
3. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx-Quick-Step, at 7 seconds
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Esp) Astana, at 10 seconds
5. Lars Boom (Ned) Astana, st
6. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin, st
7. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM-Cycling, st
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, at 12 seconds
9. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin, at 13 seconds
10. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Team Sky, at 14 seconds
11. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, st
12. Bradley Wiggins (Gbr) Team Sky, at 15 seconds
13. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, st
14. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 16 seconds
15. Jack Bauer (Nzl) Cannondale-Garmin, st