World road race champion Tom Boonen edged out Allan Davis and Francisco Ventoso in a sprint finish to take the first stage of the Paris-Nice race.
Boonen is the defending world road race champion
The Belgian's victory gave him the overall lead from defending champion Bobby Julich, who had won the prologue.
American veteran Julich slips to second in the overall standings, seven seconds behind Boonen.
Andrey Kashechkin of Kazakhstan is one second back in third, while Britain's Bradley Wiggins is seventh.
"Two weeks ago, when I saw the roadbook, I had marked the stage down as one of my goals," said Boonen.
"It was a flat stage which suited me fine even though the conditions made it very hard. It was cold, it rained and I'm all the happier to have been able to win in such conditions."
Boonen added: "It's good for the team's morale and now we'll be able to sit
back a bit during the rest of the week.
"We're not looking to win the general classification but that doesn't mean we won't be going out to win."
The stage was marked by two major breakaways.
American David Zabriskie, winner of the Tour de France first time trial in July, broke clear for 38km early in the day before being caught.
Frenchmen Stephane Auge and Christophe Laurent then took over and held a maximum lead of 10 minutes and five seconds before being reined in.
Tuesday's second stage takes the 168 riders over 200 km from Cerilly to Beleville-en-Beaujolais.
Stage One result:
Villemandeur - Saint-Amand-Montrond, 193 km
1. Tom Boonen (Belgium / Quick-Step) 4:56:01"
2. Allan Davis (Australia / Liberty Seguros) ST
3. Francisco Jose Ventoso (Spain / Saunier Duval)
4. Elia Rigotto (Italy / Milram)
5. Danilo Napolitano (Italy / Lampre)
6. Gert Steegmans (Belgium / Davitamon - Lotto)
7. Vicente Reynes (Spain / Caisse d'Epargne)
8. Lilian Jegou (France / Francaise des Jeux)
9. Vladimir Gusev (Russia / Discovery Channel)
10. Hans Dekkers (Netherlands / Agritubel)
1. Tom Boonen (Belgium / Quick-Step) 5:02:01"
2. Bobby Julich (U.S. / Team CSC) +7"
3. Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan / Liberty Seguros) +8"
4. Bradley McGee (Australia / Francaise des Jeux) +9"
5. Alberto Contador (Spain / Liberty Seguros) +10"
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spain / Euskaltel)
7. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Cofidis) +12"
8. Benoit Vaugrenard (France / Francaise des Jeux)
9. Gert Steegmans (Belgium / Davitamon - Lotto) +14"
10. Rik Verbrugghe (Belgium / Cofidis)