The 28-year -old's average speed was 46.9 km on a course that included an approximate 7 km climb through narrow streets, and a tricky descent with pin turns.
The total 15.5 km time-trial around Monaco brought a second place finish, 18 seconds behind the leader for Astana's 27 year old Alberto Contador, and third place for Bradley Wiggins, 29, of Garmin Slipstream.
Lance Armstrong finished 10th in a time of 20min 12sec - 40 seconds behind the winner.
Defending 2008 TDF champion Carlos Sastre finished one minute and eight seconds off Cancellera's pace.
The tricky turns after the summit of the course derailed David Millar when he could not keep his bike straight on a pin curve. Footage on Versus shows him unable to keep his balance with his stiff back wheel, a slip up that lost him lots of time.
Levi Leipheimer beat his Astana teammate Armstrong by coming in 6th. But two riders showed impressive finishes for the first stage, Andreas Kloden of Astana who came in 4th, and Cadel Evans, 5th, who rides for Silence Lotto.
Oddly enough Phil Liggett may have been the first to see it before the race when he commented that Cadel Evans is a dark horse.
Armstrong had a disadvantage that he rode before the top riders--a placement he was given because of his almost 4 year absence from the Tour. This did not allow him to compare splits with more competitive riders.
Compare his performance to Sastre's, defending 2008 TDF winner, who came last and could pace his time to everyone before him, was easily bested by Armstrong.
- Fabian Cancellara, Saxo Bank, 19 minutes 32 seconds
- Alberto Contador, Astana, + 18 secs
- Bradley Wiggins, Garmin Slipstream, +19 secs
- Andreas Kloden, Astana, +22 secs
- Cadel Evans, Silence Lotto, +23 secs
- Levi Leipheimer, Astana, +30 secs
- Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas, +32 secs
- Tony Martin, Columbia Highroad, +33 secs
- Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, +37 secs
- Lance Armstrong, Astana, +40 secs