Lausanne - Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski of the Omega Pharma team won the prologue to the Tour of Romandie on Tuesday in the Swiss town of Ascona.
Kwiatkowski recorded the quickest time on the short 5.57km course, of 6min 22sec, to beat Rohan Dennis of Australia by two seconds and Germany's Marcel Kittel by four seconds.
Triple world time-trial champion Tony Martin of Germany settled for fifth place, five seconds off the pace, while Italian Giacomo Nizzolo squeezed home in fourth spot.
Defending Romandie champion and Tour de France holder Chris Froome of Sky came home 13th, 10 seconds behind Kwiatkowski's winning time, while overall contender and Giro d'Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali was two seconds slower in 18th.
"It's a big surprise. I was in form for the Ardennes classics but I didn't know what kind of form I would be in today," said Kwiatkowski, who takes the leader's yellow jersey.
"I'm really hapy with what I've done. To have a few seconds advantage is something special."
The first stage proper is scheduled for Wednesday and a 200.9km run from Ascona to Sion which will feature the snow covered Simplon climb.
The six-day race finishes on Sunday with a 18.5km time-trial around Neuchatel. Results on Tuesday from the opening prologue stage of the Tour of Romandie, a 5.6km (3.5-mile) time trial:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski, Poland, Omega-Pharma Quick Step, 6 minutes, 22 seconds.
2. Rohan Dennis, Australia, Garmin-Sharp, 4 seconds behind.
3. Marcel Kittel, Germany, Giant-Shimano, same time.
4. Giacomo Nizzolo, Italy, Trek Factory Racing, same time.
5. Tony Martin, Germany, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, :05.
6. Brett Lancaster, Australia, Orica-Green Edge, :06.
7. Matthias Brandle, Austria, IAM Cycling, :07.
8. Jesse Sergent, New Zealand, Trek Factory Racing, :08.
9. Ramunas Navardauskas, Lithuania, Garmin-Sharp, :09.
10. Martijn Keizer, Netherlands, Belkin, same time.