A very tough course saw a number of pre-race favourites caught out by pacing too aggressively in the early sections, and it was a couple of riders who weren't at the top of the standings at the midway point that secured the top finishing spots on the Roche-La-Molière finish line.
After Australian Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers) set a strong time midway through proceedings to take the provisional lead, it was expected that only the big general classification names who double as time triallists would really set the time sheet alight, with names like Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) still to come.
However, it was the Astana-Premier Tech surprise packets of first Izagirre then Lutsenko that stunned the rest of the field with measured rides that saw them take advantage of the climb to the finish to post fast times.
Lukas Postlberger (BORA-hansgrohe) managed to battle through the course to maintain his race lead by a single second over Lutsenko.
“It might be a surprise but I did my maximum,” said Lutsenko. “I’ve done a lot of work on my TT bike at altitude at Teide, and the up and down courses are perfect for me. We did many, many hours of training on the TT bike in the camp and it has paid off.”
“This kind of course, 16 kilometres of up and down is perfect for me. In the first six kilometres I went a bit slower and saved some energy and then in the last six to seven kilometres I went full, full gas. In the final, I just did my absolute maximum, 200 per cent. To be only one second off the yellow jersey is a bit disappointing but the Dauphiné isn’t finished and I will fight to get the yellow jersey. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after in the mountains.”
Geraint Thomas was expected to establish a bit of a buffer on the general classification after the stage but faded after being fastest at the intermediate checkpoint to finish 23 seconds behind Lutsenko on the day.
"The pacing was a bit too aggressive really for what I had today, and I just felt like I was legless," Thomas said after the stage. "Even going through the time check I was like 'oh, I've overdone this now'."
'It was just sort of survival really, just hanging on. It's not the type of course where you want to be hanging on for the last seven or eight kilometres you know? You need to be strong there and I just did it in reverse really."
Thomas now sits eighth overall, while teammate Richie Porte has moved up to seventh, just 16 seconds behind race leader Postlberger.
The Critérium du Dauphiné continues with Stage 5, a hilly 175-kilometres stage from Saint-Chamond to Saint-Vallier that will offer opportunities for the attackers. Watch the racing action from 10.20pm on SBS VICELAND and SBS OnDemand.