Adam Yates retained the overall lead in the Criterium du Dauphine as Wout van Aert doubled up in France with victory on stage four.
Twenty-four hours after taking his first WorldTour win in Wednesday’s time trial, Belgian prodigy and former cyclo-cross champion Van Aert showed he can sprint as well as he held off Bora-Hansgrohe’s Irishman Sam Bennett to take victory in Voiron for Jumbo-Visma.
With the 201km stage from Boen-sur-Lignon coming down to a bunch finish, there were no changes at the top of the general classification, where Mitchelton-Scott’s Yates leads by four seconds from Dylan Theuns of Bahrain-Merida.
The 26-year-old Lancastrian was grateful that windy conditions did not lead to splits on the road.
“Nothing really happened until about 60km to go,” Yates said. “The wind was picking up a little bit but still, it wasn’t the right direction or it wasn’t strong enough to do anything. So it was just a bit of stress in the peloton. No more.”
The race continues on Friday with a lumpy 229km stage from Saint-Vulbas Plaine de L’Ain to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne which takes riders over eight categorised climbs before a descent into town, the first of three mountain stages to finish.
“I don’t know much about tomorrow’s finale in particular,” Yates added. “The downhill at the end could be decisive but it’s not worth risking your life for gaining 10 seconds.
“Any stage from now on is pretty hard, the last two are quite short and selective, but as I said yesterday I’m feeling good. The sensations are good.”
The Critérium du Dauphiné continues on Friday with the 229km run from Saint-Vulbas to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and concludes on Sunday in Champéry.