The Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara beat the weather and 196 rivals through the streets of Rotterdam to seize the Tour de France yellow jersey on the opening day for the fourth time overall and the second year in succession.
The world and Olympic champion had been the clear favourite for the 8.9-kilometre prologue but intermittent rain threatened to change things.
However, the winner of this year's Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix classics was again an example of Swiss precision and timing, winning in 10 minutes exactly.
Young German Tony Martin, settled for second spot, 10 seconds behind, with third place going to British specialist David Millar, who was 20 seconds back.
Fourth place went to seven-times champion Lance Armstrong 22 seconds behind the leader and the defending champion Alberto Contador was five seconds behind the American in sixth.