Yuri Trofimov (Katusha) soloed to victory on stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine after a blistering descent of the Col de Manse.
The 30-year-old escaped from a large leading group over the top of the category-two climb, and hit the fast, twisting descent hard to build up a large lead over his former companions.
Though several riders made attempts to bridge, the Russian – jersey unzipped – never looked like losing his sizable lead as he raced into Gap.
Race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), meanwhile, finished safely in the bunch to keep hold of the yellow jersey after a tough day on the front of the peloton for his team.
There was no shortage of riders trying to escape early in the stage, with Lieuwe Westra (Astana) – who made a solo dig towards the end of stage three – the first to earn a gap.
Nothing stuck however, with a fast pace in the bunch persisting early in the day on a stage always likely to suit the break.
More than 20 kilometres had been raced before a sizable break eventually went clear, with several strong riders among them.
Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin Pro Cycling), Peter Velits (BMC Racing), Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEDGE), Imanol Erviti (Movistar) and Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) were among those to make the split.
More pressingly for the bunch, however, Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) ranked 23rd overall – just 2’43” behind Froome – also made the group, ensuring a long afternoon of chasing on the front for Team Sky.
Andriy Grivko (Astana), Romain Sicard (Team Europcar), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol), Gustav Erik Larsson (IAM Cycling), Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) and Trofimov were also in the break, all working well together to stay clear.
A puncture for Froome was one of few occasions when the British team was not on the front of the bunch – the maillot jaune being safely returned to the bunch as Tinkoff-Saxo, with Alberto Contador in mind, joined the chase to ensure Bouet was not allowed too much of a lead.
Keen to get good road position on the Col du Manse, a fast pace ensued in the bunch in the run in to the ascent – splits resulting as several, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) launched counter-attacks off the front.
At the front however, Trofimov had burst clear of his former companions, climbing well to quickly earn a large lead.
The fast-paced descent included many technical bends, but the Russian was unperturbed, hitting them hard as he ensured he did not lose any time on the way down.
The perils of the descent were laid bare when Jungels and Erviti crashed heavily, but Trofimov stayed upright and even stretched his advantage as he approached the flamme rouge.
A chasing group, which included Bakelants and Bouet, pushed hard on the flatter, final kilometre but Trofimov had time to savour his win – though opting not to zip up his jersey as he saluted his second career victory at the Dauphine, six years after the race.
Further back, Larsson won the sprint for second while Hesjedal’s group crossed ninety seconds behind Trofimov.
Froome and Contador both remained safe in the bunch, meanwhile, ensuring Bouet’s performance – though good enough to climb into the top ten overall – did not cause any major damage to the general classification.
Criterium du Dauphine 2014: stage four – result
1) Yuri Trofimov (RUS) – Team Katusha – 3.59.22hrs
2) Gustav Erik Larsson (SWE) – IAM Cycling +23”
3) Pim Ligthart (NED) – Lotto-Belisol +25”
4) Lars-Petter Nordhaug (NOR) – Belkin Pro Cycling +28”
5) Peter Velits (SVK) – BMC Racing – ST
6) Maxime Bouet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
7) Jan Bakelants (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
8) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – Cannondale
9) Andriy Grivko (UKR) – Astana +1.31
10) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Garmin-Sharp – ST
1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 14.09.19hrs
2) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo +12”
3) Wilco Kelderman (NED) –Belkin Pro Cycling +21”
4) Andrew Talansky (USA) – Garmin-Sharp +33”
5) Jurgen van den Broeck (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol +35”
6) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana +50”
7) Maxime Bouet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +1.01
8) Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) – Trek Factory Racing +1.22
9) Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – Astana – ST
10) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-GreenEDGE +1.31