Marcel Kittel emerged from a crash-marred run-in to take victory in stage one at the Eneco Tour.
The powerful German (Argos-Shimano) benefited from a strong lead-out and was able to avoid an accident which split the peloton in half with two kilometres remaining.
Arnaud Demare (FDJ-BigMat) was next home at the finish in Middelburg with Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) taking a few important seconds with third.
The finish saw a big fight among the sprinters’ teams on a day which had seen a nervous start to the race with the threat of cross-winds.
A 10-second bonus on the line was enough to hand Kittel and early race lead ahead of Tuesday’s team time trial.
The cross-border WorldTour event kicked off in Waalwijk for an opening stage run exclusively on Dutch roads.
Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Staf Scheirlinckx (Accent.Jobs) braved the wet and blustery conditions as they went clear in the day's break, a disinterested peloton allowing their advantage to extend out over eight minutes.
Despite the bunch taking it easy for the first half of the day, the duo were still swept up with 74km remaining. With such a long way still to go a number of teams were willing to pitch in and set the pace on the front.
Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank were very active during a day which marked the return to action of Alberto Contador, the Spaniard back in the peloton following a ban for a positive test for Clenbuterol.
With significant cross-winds blowing from the right and despite a nervous peloton, the bunch remained intact along the coast, even after a number of concerted attempts to force splits.
A split did eventually form but for the wrong reasons, with a number of riders held up behind the late crash. With the incident occurring inside 3km all the riders were given the same time as the leaders.