Froome holds firm at Dauphine

Chris Froome retained his lead of the Criterium du Dauphine as Russia’s Yuri Trofimov escaped to an impressive solo victory on stage four in Gap.

Trofimov formed part of the day's 13-man breakaway but forged clear on his own on the final climb and then hung on down the descent to the finish to win by 23 seconds from runner-up Gustav Larsson and 25 seconds from third-placed Pim Ligthart.

Team Sky rider Froome followed 2min 10sec later in the peloton alongside his general classification rivals to consolidate his 12-second lead over Alberto Contador overall.

Trofimov, 30, who also won a stage of the Dauphine in 2008, said: "I can't believe I won. I knew this climb since the Tour de France last year. I was already in the breakaway. In the beginning of the stage, I saved my legs for the end, then I rode flat out in the climb. I gave the maximum. Now I would like to a stage at the Tour de France as well."

The 169.5km fourth stage appeared suited to a breakaway winner and a strong escape group consequently moved clear of the peloton early in the day.

They held a gap of just under three minutes leading on to the potentially decisive climb of the category-two Col de Manse, and Katusha rider Trofimov then opened up a gap of his own with an attack 6km from the summit and 18km from the finish line.

He took a 33-second lead over his fellow escapees over the top of the climb and then produced a superb display of descending skills to guarantee his first win since April 2009.

Back in the peloton, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) broke clear on the climb and were able to take time back on Froome at the finish, but the top ten overall stayed together on the dangerous descent as they opted against risking an attack.

Stage four result

1 Yuri Trofimov (Rus) Katusha, 3:59:222 Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling, +23secs3 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Belisol, +254 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin, +285 Peter Velits (Svk) BMC, st6 Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st7 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st8 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale, st9 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana, +1:3110 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp, st

General classification

1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 14:09:192 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +12secs3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, +214 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +335 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol, +356 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +507 Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:018 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +1:229 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, same time10 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEdge, +1:31