Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) sprinted to his second stage win of the 2015 Critérium du Dauphiné on a wet run into Sisteron ahead of Jonas Vangenechten(IAM Cycling) in second and Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) in third.
Rohan Dennis (BMC), who took the race lead after stage three's team time trial, remains in the yellow jersey with the same time as his second placed teammate Tejay van Garderen. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) sits four seconds off in fourth having finished safely in the lead group.
A category four climb in the last 13km and a technical run to the line meant a sprint finish was certainly not an inevitable outcome given stage one's result, with a plenty of attacks coming out of the main peloton.
Tim Wellens's (Lotto-Soudal) attack looked the most likely to stick, as he held out a gap until there were just 2km remaining. Daniel Oss (BMC), Tony Martin (Etixx - Quick-Step) and Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo) then had a roll of the dice, but the looming peloton wouldn't get away and everyone came together for the finish.
Bouhanni, wearing the green points jersey, left it late to launch his sprint as the likes of Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) made early moves. But the Frenchman looked assured as he passed his rivals and was able to sit-up and celebrate across the line.
Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) formed the day's main break, moving away within the first 10km to establiush a maximum time gap of over seven minutes. Things came to an end for van der Sande on the final category four climb of the day, while Keizer ploughed on before finally being caught.
Thursday's stage five sees the peloton tackle the mountains proper for the first time in this race, as they head to Praloup with five categorised climbs along the 161km course, including a second category summit finish.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2015, stage four: Anneyron to Sisteron, 228km
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, in 5-30-53
2. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
3. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Alpecin
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka
5. Alexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step
7. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r
8. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
9. Kevin Reza (Fra) FDJ
10 Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin, all same time
Overall classification after stage four
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing in 13-31-30
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at same time
3. Anriy Grivko (Kaz) Astana at 4 secs
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 4 secs
5. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana at 4 secs
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 4 secs
7. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 4 secs
8. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 5 secs
9. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 5 secs
10. John Gadret (Fra) Movistar at 5 secs
19. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky at 23 secs
21. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 23 secs
22. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 23 secs
24. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 35 secs
27. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at 43 secs
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1