So, with the fast riders in, my attempt of an analysis - remember, I know nothing about this kind of stuff
To start from the beginning, the top 3 is hardly a surprise. Barreda was also very fast last year, and especially on a stage which was not too navigation-intensive(?), he could be expected to do well. Coma/Despres just underlines that not only can they be consistent, as we know, they can also be fast if they want to.
With Despres in 3rd, I think he has a solid starting point for tomorrow: The gap of one minute is negligible, he'll "just" have to catch up to Coma and stick with him, and he can keep everything under control without having to open the track at all - should Barreda make a mistake, there is still Coma to open. The stage will end in dunes, and Barreda might have a harder time being just as fast when he is opening.
Sunderland had a great first stage with a top ten finish, just as planned. If he is as good at navigating as many people seem to think, he'll be a top contender if he can keep his head together. Also a solid show by Grabham, who overtook plenty of people going from a starting position of 29 all the way up to 11. While I had heard good things about him, and he seems like a really god guy, I'm somewhat (pleasantly) surprised he did that well.
Speaking of surprises, something must have gone quite wrong for my fellow Scandinavian, Ullevalseter. He fell all the way from 18th to 43rd place, and even if he may not be the fastest, I had expected much better from him. Will be interesting to hear the cause of that.
With all that said, the biggest surprise for me was Duclos at 4th, I must not have done my homework properly, I don't even remember having ever heard his name :-)
Finally, I'm crossing my fingers for the Escale-brothers. Having to tow and be towed all the way home has got to be extremely taxing. Not a good start of the rally for them.