Australian sprinter Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) has roared to a shock victory in the Paris-Nice prologue, upsetting pre-stage favourite Tom Dumouilin by a single second.
Matthews, a silver medallist at the road world championships last year, upset the time trial specialists to win the 6km race against the clock outside Paris in 7min 39sec on his first day of racing this year.
"I was thinking a top five was possible on a course like this," Matthews said.
"It was hilly, with lots of technical corners, which suits me. I had high hopes but I didn't think I could win this."
Paris-Nice will be broadcast live on SBS2 and streamed online at Cycling Central from Sunday 6 March - 13 March (check your local guides).
New Zealand's Patrick Bevin (Cannondale) was third, a second behind Dutchman Dumouilin (Giant-Alpecin).
Australia's defending champion Richie Porte (BMC) finished 11th after clocking 7:49.
Matthews had already worn the Paris-Nice's leader jersey after winning a stage last year and keeps it on the shoulders of an Australian after Porte's overall victory last year.
"The next few stages are flat sprints so I should be able to keep the jersey," Matthews said.
"My climbing form is quite good so it will be nice to see how long I can keep it.
"It's an amazing jersey and an amazing race. This is Paris-Nice and I know most of the climbs on the course this week."
Among the overall contenders, Geraint Thomas (Sky) posted the fastest time, seven seconds behind Matthews, with former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) lagging 16 seconds behind.
Monday's first stage of the eight-day race takes the peloton on a 198km ride from Conde-sur-Vesgre to Vendome.