Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished third on stage four of the Critérium du Dauphiné, a 32.5km individual time trial won by Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), to move up to second overall.
World time trial champion Martin, who has been suffering from illness, stopped the clock in 36 minutes and 55 seconds, with Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) second to move into the yellow jersey.
Dennis now leads the general classification ahead of Thursday’s mountain stage to Valmorel, with Froome just five seconds adrift.
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) was the day’s biggest loser, finishing 61st on the stage, more than three-and-a-half minutes down on Martin, to drop to 34th overall.
Froome said: “It’s a good result for me. Today was a good exercise and a good test for the form. I had good legs.
“I don’t know what Alberto’s strategy is. Maybe he is keeping some energy for the mountains.”
Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) set the pace from the early starters before Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) clocked 38 minutes and 30 seconds to move into the lead.
Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) then went quickest but Martin blew his time away and, with Dennis and Froome, who was riding Pinarello’s new Bolide time trial bike, also going quicker, the Spaniard was forced to settle for fourth.
David Veilleaux (Europcar) held the race lead at the start of the day and was the last man to roll down the start ramp but the Frenchman dropped to seventh overall after finishing 76th on the stage, nearly four minutes behind Martin, who will now use the final four days of the race to fine-tune his form for the Tour de France, which starts on June 29.
Martin said: “I was really looking forward to today. It was the first long time trial after Volta ao Algarve. It was a really nice form test for the Tour de France.
“In the past days I had some stomach problems due to a virus. The biggest problem I had was two days ago, and yesterday I was already feeling better, not 100 per cent, but when I woke up this morning I was pretty OK, feeling optimistic and feeling confident.
So, I’m not 100 percent recovered, but almost. I’m happy with the stage win. I was happy about my gap to a rider such as Froome. I’m not 100% fit, so I’m happy with my result.”
Four Team Sky riders set times which saw them finish in the top ten, with Froome, stage three winner Edvald Boasson Hagen, Paris-Nice champion Richie Porte and Welshman Geraint Thomas all now in the top six overall.
Stage five should provide another shake-up in the general classification, with a 139km stage which finishes with the climb to the ski resort of Valmorel at 1,369m.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2013 – stage four – result
1) Tony Martin (GER) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep – 36:55 minutes
2) Rohan Dennis (AUS) – Garmin-Sharp +47″
3) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +52″
4) Jonathan Castroviejo (SPA) – Movistar +1’08”
5) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +1’13”
6) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Team Sky +1’19”
7) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky +1’20”
8) Jan Barta (CZE) – NetApp-Endura +1’36”
9) Marco Pinotti (ITA) – BMC Racing +1’38”
10) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +1’42”
1) Rohan Dennis (AUS) – Garmin-Sharp -12:40:00 hours
2) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +5″
3) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +26″
4) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Team Sky +32″
5) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky +33″
6) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +55″
7) David Veilleux (CAN) – Europcar +1’09”
8) Leopold Konig (CZE) – NetApp-Endura +1’11”
9) Stef Clement (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling +1’14”
10) Andriy Grivko (UKR) – Astana +1’26”