The atmosphere at the open-air facility failed to match the Velodrome's heated ambiance as riders went through an uninspiring one-off seeding run, one after another.
The BMX riders needed around 40 seconds to complete their 450-metre dash (440 for the women) and Dutchman Raymon van der Biezen was the quickest in 37.779 seconds.
French 2011 world champion Joris Daudet of France was second with reigning world champion Sam Willoughby of Australia taking sixth place.
Thursday and Friday's runs will be eight-rider bunch races and are expected to be more spectacular on a track made on 14,000 cubic metres of soil.
"It's fantastic absolutely fantastic, it's truly Olympic standard," local favourite Liam Phillips told reporters.
Latvia's Edzus Treimanis perhaps disagreed after crashing face first into a large bump in the final rhythm section. The seedings make sure that the fastest riders do not face each other in the knockout phase.
The women advance straight to the three-run semi-finals while the men will need to go through quarter-final runs, which will be held on Thursday.
American Brooke Crain was the other rider to crash when she lost control also in the final rhythm section with her stomach hitting her handlebars.
World champion Magalie Pottier of France finished seventh, 1.344 slower than Australian Caroline Buchanan's best time of 38.434 seconds.
Britain's Shanaze Reade, one of the event's favourites, was fifth, just behind Beijing silver medallist Laetitia le Corguille of France.
"I could have been a little bit more aggressive out there today, it is not as pressure filled for us because normally we to get out of the first time trial to make the racing and there is usually a lot more girls," American Alise Post told reporters after having secured eighth place.
"Having that pressure off and just knowing it is for seeding definitely allowed me to relax and get a feel for the track. I really wanted to be top eight and I made that."
BMX made its first appearance at the Olympics four years ago in Beijing.