Richie Porte sent a warning to his rivals by winning the fourth stage 23.5km individual time trial as Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.
Adjusting the GC for the mountains to come, Porte leads Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 27 seconds, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo )by 35 and Chris Froome (Sky) another two seconds in arrears.
Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Fabio Aru (Astana) have work to do if they are to make an impression from Stage 6 onward.
As Porte was ticking another performance box, Froome appeared to be just off his best while Contador and Valverde produced encouraging rides on the stage from La Tour du Pin and Bourgoin-Jallieu.
“I’ve still got three weeks now after the Dauphine in terms of time trial work and it’s obviously something that I’m going to have to do a bit more work on,” Froome said post-stage. “I’ve done everything right up until now and I’ll just keep going up until the Tour.
“It [the time gap to Porte] changes the dynamic. If I’d gained time today then I could have ridden more defensively on the climbs. Now that I’ve got time to make up it means I can be more offensive going into the next few days.”
By contrast, the evergreen Valverde emerged in a buoyant mood from the effort and is perhaps Porte's only real threat at this Dauphiné.
“All the time trials that I’ve done this year have been very good,” he said. “To be ahead of someone like Froome is pretty big, that’s for sure.
“Froome has always been better than me in time trials, and not just by 30 seconds, but more like a minute or more, so to be above him here, it’s a great outcome for me.”
Contador was similarly buoyed by his effort despite a lack of race days in 2017.
"I am really happy with my feeling because I felt I had power in the climbs today,” he said. “But with these roads and all the flats, it suited riders like Tony Martin. But I finished 7th, I still feel fresh, and this is important.
"I will go into the last days calm and not put a big responsibility on my team. My focus is only to do a good work for July. I expected to lose some time today. Porte and Froome have raced more and have arrived here in better form."
Stage 5 of the 69th Critérium du Dauphiné runs 175.5km from La Tour-de-Salvagny to Mâcon. Favourites include Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie).