Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) took his first win of the season on the sixth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, outclassing his three rivals from the day's break in a sprint finish into Grenoble.
The Frenchman took advantage of a toothless challenge from two Astana riders, Igor Silin and Kevin Seeldraeyers, and Movistar's Jesus Herrada, who failed to make their numerical superiority count over the former Tour yellow jersey.
It was an important second stage win in the race for Voeckler's Europcar team who will seek a new sponsor at the end of 2013.
Meanwhile the man hoping to wear the famous attire of Tour leader himself, race leader Chris Froome, finished safely in the bunch 45 seconds down on Voeckler to safeguard his lead on a rolling but comfortable day for the overall contenders.
His sternest tests are expected to come in the final two stages of the race this weekend as the riders tackle two mountainous challenges, including Alpe d'Huez and the Col de la Sarenne, whose ascents will act as a dry run for the Tour.
Criterium du Dauphine 2013, stage six: La Lechere to Grenoble, 143km
1. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in 3-24-13
2. Jesus Herrada (Movistar)
3. Kevin Seeldraeyers (Astana)
4. Igor Silin (Astana) all at s.t.
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen at 46 secs
6. Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma Quickstep)
7. Francesco Gavazzi (Astana)
8. Wesley Sulzberger (Orica-GreenEdge)
9. Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Seche Environnment)
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Overall standings after stage six
1. Chris Froome (Sky) in 19-33-43
2. Richie Porte (Sky) at 52 secs
3. Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) at 54 secs
4. Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) at 1-37
5. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) at 1-47
6. Daniel Navarro (Saxo-Tinkoff) at 1-49
7. Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) at 1-52
8. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) at 1-58
9. Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) at 2-18
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) at 2-20
13. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) at 2-49
25. Geraint Thomas (Sky) at 5-30
Thomas Voeckler attacks
Thomas Voeckler wins
Dauphine stage six gallery
Chris Froome praises Richie Porte after Dauphine stage win
Chris Froome stamps his authority with win in Dauphine stage five
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