Geraint Thomas is seven seconds behind leader Michael Matthews after the opening prologue time trial of the prestigious week-long Paris-Nice race.
The Welshman is leading the Team Sky squad and is tipped to run defending champion and former team-mate Richie Porte close for the overall victory.
Porte finished 10 seconds behind fellow Australian Matthews, who rode the 6.1km course in seven minutes 39 seconds.
Tom Dumoulin is one second back, with New Zealander Patrick Bevin third.
Monday's first stage proper will take the peloton 198km from Conde-sur-Vesgre to Vendome and is expected to finish in a bunch sprint.
1. Michael Matthews (Aus/Orica GreenEdge) 7mins, 39secs
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Giant) +1sec
3. Patrick Bevin (NZ/Cannondale) +2secs
4. Jesus Herrada (Spa/Movistar) +6secs
5. Jon Izagirre (Spa/Movistar) Same time
7. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky +7secs
11. Richie Porte (Aus/BMC Racing) +10secs
27. Alberto Contador (Spa/Tinkoff) +16secs