Victory in the opening team time trial has catapulted Black Spoke's Regan Gough into the NZ Cycle Classic yellow jersey at Masterton.
The Kiwi professional outfit showed their rivals they would be tough to beat on the roads around the lower North Island over the next five days, clocking 11m 44.8s for the 10km journey to finish more than 20 seconds clear of Coupland Bakeries/Booth Group and the NZ national team, led by Olympian George Bennett, another five seconds adrift.
Olympic track star Gough, Logan Currie, Josh Kench, Mark Stewart, Ryan Christensen and Michael Fitzsimons established early control of the event, with Currie claiming the U23 white jersey.
"Each played a part in it, so it was awesome to get around there," says Gough. "I believe [we now have] a little bit of a buffer on the other guys, so that is always good, because it is going to come down to seconds out there this week.
"Just the nature of the course and the competition … every second counts."
Currie - second cousin of NZ Ironman champion Braden Currie - is a late replacement in the line-up, after the withdrawal of Michael Vink through injury.
Couplands watched their early advantage whittled away by Black Spoke, while Bennett admits the rapid nature of the opening stage blasted away a few Christmas cobwebs for himself and fellow world tour rider Shane Archbold.
"Pretty rude way to start the year with 10kms full gas," he says. "We were a bit off the pace, but that is why we are here to get those kinds of efforts in, as you don’t do that in training.
"Lucky, we had younger guys carry us… me and Shane were kind of dragging the chain.
"Hopefully, a few more efforts like that by the end of the week and we will in some form of shape for the big stage."
On Thursday, the field faces a 158km return leg between Masterton and Alfredton, with the 'queen stagte' around Gladstone - featuring a hilltop finish at Te Wharau Hill - scheduled for Saturday and a Wellington finish on Sunday.