Phinney makes history in Dubai
US Taylor Phinney of BMC Racing Team attends a press conference in Kortrijk on March 21, 2013 - by Kurt Desplenter
The BMC rider won the four-stage event's 9.9 kilometre time trial by 14 seconds from his British teammate Steve Cummings.
Denmark's 2012 Olympic omnium gold medallist Lasse Hansen was a further 16sec adrift in third, with German world time trial champion Tony Martin, who set off last, coming fourth.
Phinney had felt confident about his level of preparedness going into this newcomer on the professional cycling circuit after a second place in an Argentine season warm-up last month.
"I thought I was going to beat my record of watts, I reached 490. I knew I was already in good condition as I'd worked well over the winter," said the 23-year-old.
Phinney, the son of two Olympic medallists at the 1984 Games, is an early starter, the 2009 and 2010 world pursuit champion finishing on the podium in last year's neighbouring Tour of Qatar.
Thursday's second stage favouring sprinters in the peloton is a 122km run from the capital of the United Arab Emirates state to Palm Jumeirah.