Live coverage of stage 4 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, a 32.5km time trial from Villars-les-Dombes to Parc des Oiseaux.
As we pick up the action, Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) has the quickest time at the finish. The Czech is in hot seat after recording a time of 38:30, 49 seconds quicker than Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) and 58 quicker than Eloy Teruel (Movistar), while world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has just begun his effort.
The full list of start times is available here. Overnight leader David Veilleux (Europcar) is the last man off at 13:58 local time, and there will, of course, be close scrutiny paid to the efforts of Chris Froome (13:38) and Alberto Contador (13:40).
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) approached the Dauphiné with high hopes but illness has ended the American's overall aspirations prematurely. Instead, he will be aiming simply to finish the race as part of his preparations for the Tour de France and he has the 8th best time so far, 1:30 down on Barta.
Barta's average speed over the course was a very solid 50.64kph, although he told letour.fr that there was no wind out on the flat parcours.
Barta's stint in the hotseat looks destined to come to an end once Tony Martin finishes his effort. The world champion has scorched through the first time check in Rignieux-le-Franc (11.5km) 32 seconds quicker than Barta.
Martin had been suffering from illness in recent days and had even considered withdrawing from the race before yesterday's stage but the opening kilometres here suggest that he is making a quick recovery.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) is 7 seconds quicker than Barta at the second time check at Versailleux (21km) and is approaching the finish line.
Castroviejo pitched his effort well on back end of the course. The Spaniard has crossed the finish with a new quickest time of 38:02, 28 seconds up on Barta.
Castroviejo's time atop the leaderboard is also destined to be brief, however. Tony Martin has careered through the second time check 51 seconds quicker than the Spaniard.
Martin has averaged 52.9kph over the first 21.5 kilometres of the course. Given how quickly Castroviejo covered the final 10 kilometres, it will be interesting to see how Martin has paced his effort.
Martin's former HTC teammate Marco Pinotti has endured an injury-blighted opening to the season, but he's always a reliable performer against the watch. The Italian has the second best time at the first check, but that is still some 30 seconds down on Martin...
New best time for Tony Martin - the German crosses the line in 36:55, 1:08 quicker than Castroviejo.
Martin started very, very quickly indeed, averaging in excess of 54kph in the opening 11 kilometres. His speed dropped off slightly in the middle section of the course, but not by much, and his final average speed was 52.84kph. The general classification contenders will be hard-pressed to better that.
Speaking of the general classification contenders, the overall situation was as follows this morning:
1 David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar 12:00:22
2 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:56
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard 0:01:57
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
7 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
8 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling
10 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
11 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
12 Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team
13 Thomas Rohregger (Aut) RadioShack Leopard
14 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling
15 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol
Veilleux is a solid time triallist and might give himself a fighting chance of holding off Froome, Porte et al over 31.5km, but he will doubtless be glad that Tony Martin began the day 10:49 down in 91st place overall.
Jerome Coppel (Cofidis) is the next man to start his time trial. The Frenchman has been quiet since making the switch from Saur-Sojasun during the off-season, and approaches the Tour burdened by far less home expectation than Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
On the subject of French expectations, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) has gone through the first time check 1:17 down on Tony Martin. After breaking his collarbone at Amstel Gold Race in April, Voeckler is still feeling his way back to form ahead of the Tour.
Speaking to letour.fr on crossing the finish line, Tony Martin declared himself pleased with his average speed but concerned that Chris Froome (Sky) might yet oust him from the hotseat. "It was not my best time trial but it wasn’t a bad one either," Martin said. "I’ve had stomach problems in the past few days. Fortunately, I’ve felt much better today but I was not at 100% of my capacities. I’m not sure to win today. We have to look at Froome’s performance."
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is now out on the course. With a brace of 30km time trials at this year's Tour de France, today's stage is a crucial test for the Catalan ahead of La Grande Boucle. Rodriguez made big strides against the watch last year, but that wasn't enough to stop him from losing the maglia rosa in the final time trial of the 2012 Giro d'Italia.
Thomas Voeckler is 2:40 down on Martin at the second time check, although losing a bit of time today will doubtless help Voeckler's chances of escaping up the road later in the week.
Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) is the next rider in the start house. The Australian was second overall last year while riding for Sky but he made a curiously late switch to Saxo-Tinkoff in December of last year.
Tony Martin's time is standing up to its first robust tests. His teammate Michal Kwiatowski has the second best time at the first check, 22 seconds down.
Thomas Voeckler, meanwhile, has crossed the finish line 4:14 down on Tony Martin.
It's been a disappointing outing for Joaquim Rodriguez thus far. The Spaniard is 2:30 down on Martin after 21.5km.
It's also been a low-key outing for Pierre Rolland (Europcar). The Frenchman reached the finish 3:23 down on Martin.
Contrary to reports circulating elsewhere, we can confirm that Martin still has the best time at the intermediate checks. The organisation have corrected the error on the official time sheet that mistakenly had Ben Hermans (RadioShack-Leopard) listed as the quickest after 11km.
Back in the start house, Chris Froome (Sky) is about to set off on his effort. His teammate Bradley Wiggins laid down a significant psychological marker in his bid for Tour de France victory in the Dauphine time trial last year, and Froome will be looking for something similar here.
The man starting immediately after Froome, of course, is Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff). Froome got the better of the Spaniard at the Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico, and the Dauphine is the final gauge of form for each man ahead of the Tour.
This is Contador's fourth time trial of the season, and he is all too aware that he has struggled in the discipline to date in 2013. At the Tour de San Luis in January, he lost 57 seconds in 19km to Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge). He lost 30 seconds in 9.2km to Tony Martin at Tirreno-Adriatico in March, and then he lost over a minute in 24km to Martin at the Tour of the Basque Country.
Richie Porte (Sky) is also out on the road. The Paris-Nice winner has been very consistent against the watch thus far in 2013. Porte, Froome and Contador all start today's time trial locked on the same time, of course, 1:57 down on the yellow jersey of Veilleux.
Joaquim Rodriguez lifts himself out of the saddle to finish with a sprint but he has coughed up 3:47 to Tony Martin. He simply can't afford a similar showing in a month's time at the Tour.
Michal Kwiatowski crosses the finish line with the third best time so far, 1:13 down on Tony Martin.
Chris Froome never looks especially smooth on his time trial bike, and it's difficult to get a sense of what he is capable of today until we see his first intermediate time.
Alejandro Valverde rolls down the start ramp. His Movistar team has made efforts against the clock this year, partly at the prompting of Giro stage winner Alex Dowsett, and you see a video about their TT preparations here.
Froome has gone through the 11.5km point in third place, 26 seconds down on the flying Tony Martin. His reference points for the general classfication will be Alberto Contador and Richie Porte, of course.
Contador has gone through the first time check 1:09 down on Martin and almost 40 seconds down on Froome, which puts a different slant on the Sky man's opening kilometres.
Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) has performed very well indeed. The young Australian has the second best time at the finish, 47 seconds down on Martin.
Overall leader David Veilleux (Europcar) takes a couple of deep breaths in the start house before beginning his effort. The Canadian has almost two minutes in hand over Froome and company, but this is a big test.
Richie Porte (Sky) is a little below expectations at the first time check (11.5km). The Tasmanian has gone through 40 seconds down on Martin, 14 down on Froome but 29 up on Contador.
Contador's upper body is beginning to rock more and more as his time trial progresses. Although appearances can be deceptive - when the camera pans back to Chris Froome, he is positively wrestling with his bike.
Froome comes through the second time check still in third place, 41 seconds down on Martin. Rohan Dennis has the second best time at the second time check, 34 seconds down on Martin. Dennis is - provisionally - on track to take over the yellow jersey should David Veilleux concede it.
Contador, meanwhile, is having a disastrous afternoon. He has the 50th best time at the second check, all of 2:20 down on Tony Martin. That's 1:40 behind Chris Froome.
Richie Porte is a minute down on Tony Martin at the second time check, and closing in on his two-minute man Contador.
Up the road, Chris Froome is on the point of making the juncture with Dominque Nerz, which could help him make up the ground on Rohan Dennis.
David Veilleux (Europcar) looks destined to lose his yellow jersey. The Canadian has come through the first check point 1:20 down on Martin and he still has 20 kilometres of hard labour to come.
Contador is looking ragged at this point, and he still has five kilometres to go. Meanwhile, Froome has passed under the red kite and is beginning his approach to the finish line.
Rohan Dennis looks set to take the yellow jersey. Chris Froome can only manage the third best time, 52 seconds down on Martin and 5 behind Dennis.
Contador's afternoon has taken another turn for the worse. Richie Porte catches him for two minutes with 4 kilometres still to race, blasting past his former team leader.
A kilometre to go for Contador, who has really struggled this afternoon.
Richie Porte crosses the line in 7th place, 1:19 behind Tony Martin, while Contador reaches the finishes some 3:36 down. The Spaniard has lost 2:44 to Chris Froome in 32.5km of time trialling.
Geraint Thomas (Sky) stops the clock 1:41 down on Martin in 10th place. Four Sky riders are in the provisional top ten on the stage at this point.
David Veilleux is fighting a losing battle to hold his yellow jersey but he is certainly not laying down arms. The classement virtuel at the 21.5km point has Veilleux still in yellow with 4 seconds to spare over Dennis.
The France Télévisions are trained firmly on Veilleux as he bids to hold his yellow jersey over the final kilometres of the course. Although the Canadian is pedalling quite smoothly, it looks very much like the overall lead is about to pass to Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp).
Alejandro Valverde ends his time trial 3:28 on Tony Martin. Like Rodriguez and Contador, his GC aspirations have taken a battering today and he has been left with considerable food for thought ahead of the Tour de France.
Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) brings his time trial to an end, 4:13 down on his teammate Tony Martin. Veilleux is the only man still to finish.
David Veilleux crosses the line 3:52 down on Tony Martin, which means that 23-year-old Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) moves into the overall lead of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
"I was really looking forward to today because it was my first long time trial since the Volta ao Algarve and it was a good test for the Tour," Tony Martin said at the finish. "I had some problems with illness the last two days but I think I'm recovered now." Quite.
In the general classification, Rohan Dennis holds a lead of 5 seconds over Chris Froome.
“I’m very happy. My goal was to take the white jersey but to beat guys like Froome and Porte is a dream come true. To wear the yellow jersey in a WorldTour race… I’m stumped for words,” says Dennis after descending from the podium.
1 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 00:36:55
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 00:37:42
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 00:37:46
4 Jonathan Castroviejo (Por) Movistar 00:38:02
5 Michel Kwiatkoswki (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 00:38:08
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 00:38:13
7 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 00:38:14
8 Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) 00:38:30
9 Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:38:33
10 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Sky Procycling 00:38:38
General classification after stage 4:
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 12:40:00
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 12:40:05
3 Michel Kwiatkoswki (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 12:40:26
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 12:40:32
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 12:40:33
A talented Garmin youngster leads the Dauphiné after the time trial, though not the man one would have anticipated before the race began. Dennis entered the race with the task of aiding Andrew Talansky, but circumstances have now made him Garmin's leader. “My plan for the Dauphiné was to help Andrew Talansky but unfortunately he was sick on the first stage so he told me not to wait for him and to stay with the front bunch instead," Dennis said. "Today I wanted to get the white jersey and everything else from now is a bonus.”
Thanks for joining us for live coverage of the Critérium du Dauphiné today. We'll be back for more tomorrow, but until then, a full report, results and pictures will be posted here, and we'll have all the news and reaction from a crucial day of racing in France.
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