Two-time former world champion Rohan Dennis powered to his first victory since joining Ineos in a challenging 18.5km individual time trial on stage two of the Tour of Catalonia on Tuesday.
Dennis completed the course in 22 minutes and 27 seconds, while his Ineos teammates and title contenders Richie Porte, Adam Yates and Geraint Thomas also posted top-ten performances.
While Remi Cavagna of France was second the emerging Portuguese star Joao Almeida came third and took the overall lead in the seven-day race.
Now 22, Almeida led the Giro d'Italia for 15 days in a stunning breakout last year, and this performance comes as no surprise.
"Maybe I should have pushed myself a little bit more," said Almeida, explaining he wanted to conserve energy.
"I knew that the time trial was one of my weapons, and now we'll fight to keep the jersey."
Almeida goes into stage three less than a second ahead of American UAE rider Brandon McNulty, with Porte and Thomas also hot on his heels.
The tough 11km final ascent Wednesday to a summit finish promises exciting racing and that is followed by another Pyrenean stage on Thursday.
Monday's time trial win was a first for the emotional Australian Dennis since joining Ineos in 2020, although his relentless work in the Giro helped the British team win the title with Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Dennis said his role for Ineos was to do the grunt work.
"I'm just the donkey if I'm honest with you. I’m the one that helps out, and it's amazing that we've got the cards to play with the two Richies (Porte and Carapaz), G and Yatesy as well," said Dennis, who is targeting a place on the Tour de France roster.
"The win means a lot," said Dennis, who lived in the Girona region before his switch.
"It's been a long time between drinks," he said, referring to the beer he was given on the victory podium.
"It's my first victory with Ineos Grenadiers and my first victory since Yorkshire Worlds," said Dennis won his second world championships in 2019.
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome finished almost three minutes off the pace as his struggle for top form continues in his new Israel Start Up Nation colours.
One of the top paid riders in the world, Froome also lost eight minutes on the first stage.