Chris Froome lost ground on Team Ineos rival Egan Bernal on the first day of the Criterium de Dauphine.
Bernal sits five minutes 33 seconds ahead of Froome after the gruelling opening 218km stage from Clermont-Ferrand to Saint-Christo-en-Jarez.
Jumbo-Visma’s in-form rider Wout van Aert won the stage, six seconds ahead of Bernal – who was third.
The Dauphine is the final warm-up race for many riders before the Tour de France, which begins on 29 August.
Four-time Tour de France champion Froome appeared to sit up and let the peloton go within the last 10 kilometres, coming in 86th.
Bernal, 23, and Froome are competing to be selected to compete at this year’s Tour for Ineos.
Froome, 35, risks not being selected if his form is not deemed strong enough because Ineos would not want take three team leaders to the Tour.
The other is 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, who is believed to be a better fit in the team for the Tour alongside either Bernal or Froome.
Ineos have a policy that the strongest rider, by the time they get to around the final week of any Grand Tour, will be backed by the whole team.
The Dauphine is the third of three crucial warm-up races in which Ineos can define who has the best form for the Tour.
Bernal won the Route d’Occitanie, nearly 10 minutes ahead of Froome, on 4 August and ended 26 minutes ahead in last week’s Tour de l’Ain.
Thursday’s 135km stage begins in Vienne and ends on the climb up the Col de Porte.
Meanwhile, Froome’s new Israel Start Up Nation team – who he will join in 2021 – has signed Canadian Michael Woods from EF Education Pro Cycling for next year.
Woods will take on the role as ‘super domestique’ to Froome for next year’s Tour as well as contest the one-day ‘classics’.