Robbie McEwen bounced back from a late crash to win the first full stage of the Tour de France after an enthralling bunch sprint in Canterbury.
McEwen put in an incredible surge to snatch victory
The Australian looked out of contention with four miles left, but somehow snaked through the peloton to prevail.
Briton David Millar led a breakaway for much of the day, and was rewarded with the King of the Mountains jersey but he ran out of steam with 50km left.
Fellow Brit Mark Cavendish, hit by bike troubles, was 2'45" behind the pack.
Fabian Cancellara held onto the overall leader's yellow jersey following his prologue win, while Millar jumped up to third in those standings after landing time bonuses on the road.
I wanted to say thank you to the British public for their support
But the day belonged to McEwen, who also claimed the green jersey after holding off key rivals Thor Hushovd and Tom Boonen in the sprint.
"That was one of my best ever - I can't believe I've won," said McEwen, 35.
"The moment I crashed I thought that's that, and even my Tour could have been over.
"I stopped in the bunch, I was almost at a dead standstill, someone hit me from behind and flipped me over the handlebars.
"At first I thought I had broken my wrist. It's incredible."
Millar was rewarded for his aggressive cycling with the polka dot jersey, becoming the first Brit since Robert Millar in 1986 to lead the climbers' standings.
But he was required to make one final effort to earn that, bursting out of the peloton to finish second on the fourth category climb of Farthing Common.
"I wanted to say thank you to the British public for their support. I gave it everything I had," said Millar, exhausted after his efforts.
There was only disappointment for British sprint sensation Cavendish, however.
Hopes were high that his T-Mobile team would set the 22-year-old Isle of Man rider up for a shot at a memorable home stage victory.
But Cavendish encountered technical problems late on and was forced to change bikes, putting him out of the picture.
As on Saturday, British crowds supported Le Tour with gusto, giving it a perfect send off before it resumes from Dunkirk - on the other side of the English Channel - on Monday.
It is only when the race reaches the Alps next weekend that the overall favourites will start to take control.
But Alexandre Vinokourov, Alejandro Valverde, Andreas Kloden and the other team leaders all completed the Kent course safely and survive to ride another day.
The same could not be said of Spaniard Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez, who became the Tour's first retirement of 2007 after smashing the windscreen of a Caisse d'Epargne car.
Stage one result:
1. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto 4hrs 39min 01 sec
2. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole @ 0 sec
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic @ 0
4. Sebastien Chavanel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux @ 0
5. Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel @ 0
6. Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner @ 0
7. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank @ 0
8. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile @ 0
9. Francisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir @ 0
10. Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Discovery Channel @ 0
42. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld @ 0
64. David Millar (GB) Saunier Duval-Prodir @ 0
86. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Cofidis @ 0
143. Charles Wegelius (GB) @ 0
186. Mark Cavendish (GB) T-Mobile @ 2 min 45 sec
General classification after stage 1:
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC 4hr 47min 51sec
2. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana @ 13 sec
3. David Millar (GB) Saunier Duval- Prodir @ 21
4. George Hincapie (US) Discovery Channel @ 23
5. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Cofidis @ 23
6. Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel @ 25
7. Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne @ 26
8. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole @ 29
9. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana @ 30
10. Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank @ 31
43. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld @ 47
89. Charles Wegelius (GB) Liquigas @ 56
185. Mark Cavendish (GB) T-Mobile @ 3 min 37 sec