Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) was one of the main favourites for the victory in the Paris-Nice prologue on Sunday, but fell just one second shy of taking the first maillot jaune of the 2016 edition behind Orica-GreenEdge's Michael Matthews.
The 6.1km test in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine was a bit trickier than expected, with a section of cobbles at the start, a short climb, and a series of tight corners that were the key to success in such a short time trial.
Dumoulin was one of the late starters and had the task of unseating Cannondale's Patrick Bevin, the New Zealand time trial champion, who was in the hot seat after a storming debut in the race.
The Dutchman blasted through the course at an average 48kph to go one second quicker than Bevin, but with a dozen strong riders to come he was still vulnerable. However, it wasn't Geraint Thomas (Sky) or defending champion Richie Porte (Sky) who unseated Dumoulin, it was Matthews, who cornered his way to the victory just one second quicker.
"I am a little disappointed with the result, I made one mistake on the climb, my gear was too high and I was not as fast as usual in the corners," Dumoulin said.
Giant-Alpecin coach Aike Visbeek was nonetheless satisfied with Dumoulin's performance, and said he paced the effort well. "It shows that he is in very good shape at the moment," Visbeek said. "Tomorrow will be a tricky stage but the team is focused on keeping Tom in contention in the general classification. We will have to be very focused and alert."
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