Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) has donned the first yellow jersey of the 35th Tour Méditerranéen after winning the first stage, a 120km run between La Crau and Hyères.
The 30-year-old Norwegian, winner of the green jersey in the 2005 Tour de France, outsprinted Italian Liquigas teammates Francesco Chicchi and Alberto Curtolo to take the victory.
A pair of 21-year-old Frenchmen — Maxime Bouet (Agritubel) and Anthony Roux (Française des Jeux) — took an early flyer at just 7km in, building a lead of eight and a half minutes before Liquigas and Crédit Agricole began driving the chase.
The daring escape was retrieved just 3.5 km from the finish.
On Thursday, the 120 riders tackle a 135km leg between La Londe and La Garde.
1. Thor Hushovd (F), Crédit Agricole, 2:40:48
2. Francesco Chicchi (I) Liquigas, same time
3. Alberto Curtolo (I) Liquigas, s.t.
4. Leonardo Duque (F) Cofidis, s.t.
5. Alexander Serov (I) Tinkoff Credit Systems, s.t.
5. Ste?phane Bonsergent (F) Bretagne Armor Lux, s.t.
7. Bernardo Riccio (I) Tinkoff Credit Systems, s.t.
8. Lloyd Mondory (F) Ag2r La Mondiale, s.t.
9. Cyril Gautier (F) Bretagne Armor Lux, s.t.
10. William Bonnet (F) Credit Agricole, s.t.