Nicolas Vogondy of France won yesterday's fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine after breaking away in the last 2km of the final ascent.
Vogondy finished ahead of fellow Frenchman Romain Sicard, while Janez Brajkovic of Slovenia came third to retain the race leader's jersey at the end of the punishing 210.5km trek from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to the Alpine ski resort of Risoul.
Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Spain was fourth in the race's first Alpine stage and remained behind RadioShack rider Brajkovic, who captured the overall lead on Wednesday by winning the individual time trial.
"I've been the French champion twice but to win at the Dauphine, with all the champions who are here, it's another story," Vogondy said. "It's like a dream. This is crazy. Our team has been going well since the beginning of the season and it is continuing here, it's fantastic. For us, the Dauphine is already a success."
After pulling clear in the last 2km, Vogondy had to resist a late charge by Sicard, who closed to within 12 seconds. Brajkovic kept Contador under control as both riders lost 15 seconds. Brajkovic leads Tejay Van Garderen of the United States by 1min 15sec in the overall standings, with Contador 1:41 back. Johan Van Summeren launched the first attack after 12km but was quickly reined in. Stefan Denifl and Danny Pate then broke away at the 30km mark and had a maximum lead of 9:10. Denifl attacked with 11.5km to go and dropped his breakaway companion but was caught 2.5km from the finish.