Reigning Giro d'Italia champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) took 37 seconds on last year's Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) on the 9.7 kilometre individual time trial as the first Grand Tour of the season began in Jerusalem.
Dumoulin and Froome failed to face off in any of last year's Grand Tours as Dumoulin skipped the last two of 2017, while Froome didn't race in the Giro, which the Dutchman won.
And the British cyclist had to recover from a crash during a training run of the circuit and was 19 seconds down on then leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) through the first intermediate checkpoint.
Dennis was the best of the early riders, posting the best time of the opening 159 cyclists before Victor Campenaerts (Lotto) joined him on the same time as the the first of the general classification contenders took to the departure ramp.
Simon Yates (Team Sky), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Fabio Aru (Team UAE) failed to come close to knocking the Australian off top spot, with Aru 48 seconds back.
But as Froome came towards the end of his ride, Dumoulin came through the first checkpoint at the same time as Dennis before finding two second to beat him to the pink jersey after day one.
Stage One General Classification
1 Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)
2 Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) + 0:02
3 Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) + 0:02