Australian Rohan Dennis surprised to take the Criterium du Dauphiné race lead after finishing second to Stage 4 winner Tony Martin.
As expected, Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), the world time trial champion, dominated the field in his preferred discipline to finish the flat 32.5km stage from Villars-les-Dombes to Parc des Oiseaux in a time of 36min 54sec, and average speed of 52.84km/h.
"It was not my best time trial but it wasn’t a bad one either," said Martin. "I’ve had stomach problems in the past few days. Fortunately, I’ve felt much better today but I was not at 100 per cent of my capacities."
As Martin sat on the hot seat, the 23-year-old Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) ploughed through the times set by the starters ahead of him to finish second in a time of 37min 41sec, which saw him take the yellow jersey off the shoulders of previous race leader, David Veilleux (Europcar).
"I knew my form was good," said Dennis. "It can always be a bit of a gamble against guys like (Chris) Froome and (Alberto) Contador. I’m surprised to be so close to Martin.
"This is the best time trial I’ve done to date. I just tried to hold the power…I thought I could hold it average wise but instead of dropping off towards the end, I realised I had a bit more to give."
The other big surprise on the stage was the under-performance of Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador who struggled throughout and was passed by Sky's Richie Porte, who started two minutes behind the 2012 Vuelta a España winner.
"It was not a good day for me", said Contador. "I didn’t have much energy in the legs, but there is still time before my form reaches the top. I hope to be better and better each stage.
"For the Tour de France, there’s still time. I knew that Chris Froome was superior in time trialling."
Pre-race favourite Chris Froome (Sky) clocked a third best time of 37min 46sec placing him five seconds behind Dennis on the general classification and in a prime position to win the race on Sunday.
"Of course, it’s a good result for me", said Froome. "Today it was a good exercise and a good test for the form. I had good legs. I don’t know what is Alberto’s strategy. Maybe he's saving some energy for the mountains."
The fifth stage is a tough 139km ride from Gresy-sur-Aix to the ski resort of Valmorel.
Stage 4: 32.5km, Villars-les-Dombes to Parc des Oiseaux
1 Tony Martin (GER) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 36min 55sec
2 Rohan Dennis (AUS) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:47
3 Christopher Froome (GBR) Sky0:00:52
4 Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) Movistar 0:01:08
5 Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:01:13
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) Sky 0:01:19
7 Richie Porte (AUS) Sky 0:01:20
8 Jan Barta (CZE) NetApp-Endura 0:01:36
9 Marco Pinotti (ITA) BMC 0:01:38
10 Geraint Thomas (GBR) Sky 0:01:42
1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) Garmin-Sharp 12hr 40min 00sec
2 Christopher Froome (GBR) Sky 0:00:05
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:26
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) Sky 0:00:32
5 Richie Porte (AUS) Sky 0:00:33
6 Geraint Thomas (GBR) Sky 0:00:55
7 David Veilleux (CAN) Europcar 0:01:09
8 Leopold Konig (CZE) NetApp-Endura 0:01:11
9 Stef Clement (NED) Blanco 0:01:14
10 Andriy Grivko (UkR) Astana 0:01:26
SBS will have LIVE online streaming of the Criterium du Dauphiné through the Cycling Central website followed by a delayed television broadcast of each stage. Details here.