Cadel Evans said he was thankful for the support of his BMC team-mates during stage one of the Tour de France on Sunday (local time).
The defending champion survived a tough 198km first stage from the Belgian city of Liege to Seraing to finish 20th.
German team-mate Marcus Burghardt did his best to prevent a crash, using his front wheel to flick a stray bottle out of Evans’ path.
And the Australian was grateful for the performance from his team.
“The team kept me out of trouble all day and you have to be well positioned for this climb,” Evans said.
“A real conservative start made it more hectic to get into position because everyone is fresher.
“Marcus Burghardt took me to the last section near the bridge (in Seraing) and was doing 74km just to move me up.
“I’m happy with how it went.”
The final 25km was chaotic with Australian Michael Rogers of Sky and Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez involved in a fall, before a spectator taking photographs on the track caused 10 riders to crash and the 35-year-old was glad to avoid trouble.
“It’s a classic style with small roads and shorter climbs and so on,” he said.
“If there’s an opportunity there, sure I’d like to go for it.
“For us we’ll try and get through safely. You can lose the Tour anywhere, that’s the thing. So we have people in the team to help keep me in good position.”
Evans remains 17 seconds adrift of race leader and RadioShack-Nissan rider Fabian Cancellara, but moved up to eight on the general classification.