Belgium's Nick Nuyens of the Quick Step team claimed the first stage victory and the yellow jersey as the Tour of Britain returned to Scotland.
Denmark's Michael Blaudzun of Team CSC was second while Jeremy Hunt of Mr Bookmaker.com was the bestplaced Briton in third.
Barloworld's Tom Southam, who lies fifth, was the leader on the road for a while after claiming time bonuses in two of the three intermediate sprints, but otherwise it was a mostly disappointing day for British riders.
Roger Hammond, probably the best home hope, was left behind by an early break soon after the race had left Glasgow for the uplands of Lanarkshire and did not recover. As crosswinds whipped over the road, a 35-man break involving most of the best riders in the race escaped with only around 20 kilometres of the 184.2km route to Castle Douglas gone.
The sharp difference in quality between the likes of Nuyens and his Australian team-mate Michael Rogers who guessed right in joining the break and some of those left behind made a successful chase all but impossible.
Hammond, 31 from Oxford, who was a last-minute addition to a Great Britain team otherwise made up of the brightest prospects in British cycling, came close to admitting he should have spotted the break before it happened.
"If it was easy to predict we'd have all been there," he added.
"It's a young team and I feel a bit guilty because I should have been helping those guys out. I made a mistake and it's affected the whole team."
The chasing pack managed to keep the gap close to the minute mark for around 60km but, as soon as the lead group cleared the feed zone at the spectacular Drumlanrig Castle, the advantage shot up with over 20 minutes separating Nuyens from the best of the rest at the finish.
Nuyens was as surprised as Hammond that the break had been successful but his team had made sure they were in the right place at the right time.
The Belgian said: "When there are sidewinds you have to be sure you're at the front of the peloton.
"We thought maybe we could try to do it by ourselves and we started to pull and the other guys helped immediately. It was a long way to the finish but everyone worked well together."
Nuyens is just seven seconds clear of Blaudzu, with Hunt a further four seconds back, but there will effectively be two races, divided by time, when the peloton leaves Carlisle for Blackpool today.
Hunt will harbour legitimate ambitions of claiming the race leadership while there was also a strong performance from Wales' Yanto Barker of the DFL team, who is 16 seconds adrift.
But, with two Quick Step riders - Nuyens and prerace favourite Rogers - in the top ten, the Belgian team will be working hard to marshal the race to maintain their advantage.
The Scotland team was cheered on by impressive crowds throughout a mixed day with many of their riders struggling to stay with the peloton when they had been expected to set the pace on home turf.
However, Alex Coutts finished a respectable 24th.