New Zealand cyclist wins stage on Tour de France

Cavendish's jersey bears the rainbow stripes thanks to his 2011 world road championship title

"But boy we are so happy to get here without having had two minutes stuck into us by Froome", he said of Bardet's 20 second deficit on the champion.

"I could see it was going to be a good year", said Sagan, who was thrown off the Tour last year after being judged culpable of a fall that ended fellow sprinter Mark Cavendish's Tour.

It is a measure of just how much success Team Sky have enjoyed at recent Tours de France that when Geraint Thomas missed out on the yellow jersey yesterday by only three seconds he barely shrugged.

And, despite the case creating a storm ahead of the Tour de France, Wiggins, who won the race in 2012, believes Froome can still clinch a fifth crown.

Monday's third stage is a 35.5km team time-trial where the agenda for a tricky first week should be set with some significant time gaps expected on a slightly rolling course around Cholet in the same region as the first two stages.

Porte may be linked with a switch to the American Trek-Segafredo team next year, but the future of other riders and team staff is uncertain; and in the biggest race of the year, Monday's victory was the medicine they all collectively needed to reaffirm their overriding goal of reaching the finish as the team of the 2018 Tour victor.

He told ITV4: "We did an awesome job, the boys were fantastic and past year at the team time trial at the Worlds no one suited up as the strongest and there was not much difference between everyone again today and that's exactly what you want. That's just the nature of the game".

A series of crashes, hold-ups and mechanicals in the final kilometres of Stage 1 meant that some of the favourites already had time to make up.

Froome is now aiming to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the only riders to win the Tour five times.

Van Avermaet earned the yellow jersey by leading BMC over the line, just ahead of American teammate Tejay van Garderen, who moved up to second overall with the same time as Van Avermaet.

Squad leaders traded turns on the front of the team "trains", with the ability to constantly maintain a fast pace the decisive factor over a challenging - if not highly technical - route featuring a few minor hills.

"I feel maybe even better (than last year)", Porte said.

Two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana is 1:31 back after he lost time following the puncture of both his tires near the end of Stage 1.

The other members of BMC are Patrick Bevin, Damiano Caruso, Simon Gerrans, Stefan Kung and Michael Schar.

"For me I'd be looking at that...."

Colombian Fernando Gaviria, who won the opening stage on Saturday and wore the yellow jersey during the 182.5-km ride from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain, crashed in the finale and was unable to contest the sprint. The Frenchman got warmly welcomed by the people on the sides of the road and got an advantage of more than four minutes with the peloton. "It's not the first time, that's the way it is", said sports director Nicolas Portal.