But Miguel Indurain of Spain, last year's winner, and Italy's Gianni Bugno and Claudio Chiappucci all performed well at the head of the field.
The opening stage was split into two parts, the first an 85km (53 miles) race around the island of Elba and the second a 9km (5 1/2 miles) time trial.
Argentin won the first section and held on to his overall lead after coming fifth in the short second section, just 10 seconds behind Fondriest. Fondriest, who won the opening Milan-San Remo classic this year, scored his 12th success this season by taking the time trial.
Bugno, the world champion, was eight seconds off the pace and Chiappucci 11 seconds. Greg LeMond, the American, made some amends in the time trial after a disastrous first section, during which he lost almost eight minutes, and now lies 20th.Reuse content