Team Sky's Luke Rowe won the first stage of the Tour of Britain after team-mate Mark Cavendish was involved in a crash 1km from the finish.
Welshman Rowe took the initiative when world road race champion Cavendish was brought down in a heavy pile-up.
He outsprinted Boy van Poppel and fellow Briton Russell Downing to win the 200km Ipswich to Norwich route.
Manxman Cavendish, nursing a cut on his left shoulder, remounted his bike to finish the stage.
Team Sky looked to have set up the perfect scenario for a trademark finish from the 27-year-old, with Britain's and Bradley Wiggins leading out a tight bunch in the closing stages.
But the narrow roads at the Norfolk Showground played some part as Cavendish, who is using the Tour as a warm-up for was caught in a crash that also involved sprint rival Tyler Farrar and wiped out a swathe of the group.
Wiggins also hit the tarmac moments later while trying to negotiate a corner, but suffered no injuries.
Sky still celebrated a stage win, though, as Cardiff-born Rowe, 22, a late call-up for the Tour, capitalised to take the overall leader's gold jersey.
"It just shows how unpredictable our sport is. I was coming here to lead Cavendish out but then a quick touch of wheels and there I am with my hands in the air," he told BBC Sport.
"We came into the last kilometre. I was going to be Mark's last lead-out man. Then a guy came inside Cav and wiped him out completely by the sounds of it.
"I didn't get a good view and I shouted to Brad, 'go full gas, the sprint is for me'."
Wiggins got the stage under way in front of bumper crowds on the Ipswich Waterfront, in a Tour that is being seen as a victory parade for the 32-year-old following his exploits over the summer.
"It's incredible what has happened to British cycling this year. It's been happening for a few years but this is the defining year," Wiggins said.
"Cav crashed and I crashed today but it wasn't about that. The crowds were just happy to see us and I think that's the beauty of this week."
Rapha Condor's British rider Kristian House, who was part of a leading breakaway for much of the stage, finished with the king of the mountains jersey.
Monday's second of eight stages will be more undulating as it winds through the Peak District on its way from Nottingham to Knowsley.
Stage one, Ipswich to Norwich
1. Luke Rowe, GB, Team Sky, 4 hours, 51 minutes, 5 seconds
2. Boy van Poppel, Ned, UnitedHealthcare, same time
3. Russell Downing, GB, Endura Racing, same time
4. Jeremie Galland, Fra, Saur Sojasun, same time
5. Peter Hawkins, Ire, Team IG-Sigma Sport, same time
6. Rony Martias, Fra, Saur Sojasun, same time
7. Barry Markus, Ned, Vacansoleil, same time
8. Paolo Longo Borghini, Ita, Liquigas-Cannondale, same time
9. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, GB,Endura Racing, same time
10. Ben Grenda, Aus, Rapha Condor, same time