Marcel Kittel produced another impressive display of his power as he claimed stage one of the Tour of Britain in a sprint finish on Sunday.
The German Giant-Shimano rider, who won four stages of this year's Tour de France, emerged victorious at the end of the race-opening 130-kilometre circuit stage in Liverpool.
Bardiani-CSF rider Nicola Ruffoni was second, while home favourite Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-QuickStep was left to settle for third.
Richard Handley (Rapha Condor JLT), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani CSF), Mark McNally (An Post-Chainreaction) and Jonathan Mould (NFTO) broke clear on the first lap and had established a gap of one minute, 44 seconds with 40 kilometres to go.
That quartet could not maintain the lead, however, and the peloton caught up in the final few kilometres, setting the stage for an exciting race to the line.
Defending champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) hit the front in an attempt to push the pace with the help of the NetApp Endura team, who lead the way into the last kilometre before Giant-Shimano took charge to allow Kittel to surge to victory.
Kittel said: "It's always pretty difficult if just before the last one kilometre there is a downhill section. The bunch becomes very fast and you almost cannot hold your position and you have to come pretty late.
"Me and my team were pretty lucky that we still could pass on the right side. That was nice and I am very happy with what we did today. It's good to win the first stage."
The second stage sees the riders make the 200.8km trek from Knowsley to Llandudno.