Edvald Boasson Hagen stormed to victory on stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine, while Tour de France champion Chris Froome gained nine seconds on overall leader Alberto Contador and leapfrogged Richie Porte into second place.

Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) held off Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) to take the stage and points leader's green jersey from Bouhanni at the end of the flat 176km stage from Tain L'Hermitage to Belley.

'I had a great position all day. The guys kept me well protected. In the finale I had to go from far. Everyone was getting tired and I managed to stay ahead," Boasson Hagen said.

"I'm very happy. It was the last opportunity for riders like me. I really wanted to do well today. I like the Dauphiné because there's a stage for every kind of rider. I've done this race a lot of times.

"It's been a great season so far and I hope to have a good Tour de France as well. I'm getting better and better towards the Tour de France.

"It's nice to get a win for Dimension Data for Qhubeka and it gives me an opportunity to send my best wishes to Keagan Girdlestone (a Dimension Data under 23 rider who had a life threatening crash) for his recovery."

Belley-born Maxime Bouet of Etixx-QuickStep led a three-man escape from early on and eventually launched a doomed final assault for victory from 13km out.

His solo effort was reeled in on the streets of his hometown with 3km to go and as the sprint teams raised the tempo and jostled for position there was a moment of panic in the speeding peloton.

Borut Bozic of Cofidis and Alexis Gougeard of Ag2r-La Mondiale hit the tarmac hard as the former's bike flew into the air and shot the peloton into splinters.

Overall race leader Contador (Tinkoff) maintained his lead but lost nine seconds to Froome (Sky) who is four seconds back in the overall standings and who climbed to second ahead of Porte (BMC) at six seconds.

"This is an important race for me. The Dauphine is an important race in its own right," Froome said. "Yes, it's the last race for me in the build-up before the Tour, but it's important in its own right."

The race continues with a 140km run to a summit finish at the Alpine ski station at Vaujany, which culminates with a 6.4km climb at a 6.5 per cent gradient.

More to come.

Friday 10 Jun 2016