Cavendish claimed a narrow victory over the young Orica-GreenEDGE sprinter in the finish in Alanya. Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani CSF) finished third in a strong sprint field that also included Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Theo Bos (MTN-Qhubeka).
"We talked about the competition at the team meeting and we recognised that there are a lot of big sprinters at the race this year. So we know it would be chaotic, and it really was in the last kilometres," said Cavendish.
"Mark Renshaw kind of rounded the troops and they did incredible. Tom Boonen came back to racing from his injury today, and Mark had to actually tell him to go easy when he first went. He was riding that strong. In the sprint I looked behind me, and then I ran up on Mark, so I built up my speed for the jump. When I went I was happy about it. It was nice to finish the job of the guys after what they did today.
"As for me, this is also my first race back after taking some time off. I got sick in South Africa and had to stop and get over the virus. Just to stop and reset everything and to now get going again, it is quite nice. I don't think I'm in as good of condition as I could have been without the interruption, but I am definitely happy where I am and also with the strong team of Etixx - Quick-Step. We'll keep going and try to win more at this race."
Cavendish will wear the leader's jersey but has no time advantage over his rivals due to no finish line bonuses.
Orica-GreenEDGE sports director Laurenzo Lapage said the team will keep working to improve Ewan's performance.
“You have to be happy with a second place behind Cavendish," said Lapage. "It is a good result for the team and a good result for Caleb. It will set us up well for the rest of the stages, and give the whole team confidence.
“I think the team worked well together, but of course there are small things we can improve on. I think we can work even better together, and for Caleb we will look at 1-2 per cent more strength at the right moments in the sprint.
“Tomorrow we will be looking at another bunch sprint, and again the team will focus on working for Caleb. We came into today’s race relaxed, putting no pressure on Caleb, and that definitely worked.”
Drapac Professional Cycling's Brenton Jones finished ninth on the stage behind Andre Griepel (Lotto Soudal).
Stage 1 + General Classification
1 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Etixx-Quick-Step 3hr 17min 58sec
2 Caleb Ewan (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE
3 Nicola Ruffoni (ITA) Bardiani CSF
4 Sacha Modolo (ITA) Lampre-Merida
5 Theo Bos (NED) MTN-Qhubeka
6 Michal Kolár (SVK) Tinkoff-Saxo
7 Daniele Ratto (ITA) UnitedHealthcare
8 André Greipel (GER) Lotto Soudal
9 Brenton Jones (AUS) Drapac Professional
10 Jakub Mareczko (ITA) Southeast