Frenchman Romain Hardy won from a three-man break to take stage four of the 2010 Tour de l’Avenir in France on Thursday.

Hardy pipped compatriot Romain Bardet to the win, with David Rosch (Germany) in third.

Britain’s Luke Rowe placed seventh at two minutes and six seconds behind Hardy in the chasing group. Rowe climbs the overall classification to 43rd spot behind race leader Yannick Eijssen (Belgium).

The gruelling 183km stage from Ambert to Vals-les-Bains featured six categorised climbs.

Former race leader Alex Dowsett finished over half an hour down on the leaders in a group containing Great Britain team-mates Andrew Fenn, Tim Kennaugh, Mark Christian and prologue winner Taylor Phinney (USA). Phinney is still struggling with injuries sustained as a result of a crash on stage two.

The eight-day Tour de l’Avenir is open to under-23 riders and runs from Sunday, September 5, to Sunday, September 12. Past winners include Greg Lemond (1982), Olaf Ludwig (1983), Charly Mottet (1984), Denis Menchov (2001), Sylvain Calzati (2004) and Lars Bak (2005).  

Tour de l’Avenir 2010: Related links

Stage three: Dowsett loses Avenir lead after tough mountains stage

Stage two: Dowsett takes Tour de l’Avenir lead

Stage one: Phinney retains lead

Prologue: Phinney pips Dowsett in Tour de l’Avenir prologue

British fields strong Tour de l’Avenir squad