An aggressive UAE Team Emirates took on the gruelling Criterium du Dauphine stage to La Rosiere, a similar route the riders will face on the 11th stage of the upcoming Tour de France.
Valerio Conti formed part of the large escape, which survived until the last kilometres, when the Italian worked with Dan Martin to attempt to bridge the gap opened up by Pello Bilbao (Astana) and others.
Bilbao made his move late on during the demanding stage and sprinted over the line in triumph to record his second stage win of the season.
Overall leader Geraint Thomas crossed the line in second, with Martin in third.
The late move by the UAE duo saw the 31-year-old jump up 10 places in the overall classification, with the Irishman now fourth 2 mins 30 secs behind Thomas.
Martin said: “I wanted to take advantage of the good legs that I have, but it truly was a hard day.
“The final was very tactical, maybe that’s because the classification men are a little tired, and we weren’t able to pull in Bilbao like I would’ve wanted.
“Let’s see tomorrow how I am, but I’ll try to do well in the final stage, and my overall classification will benefit as a result.”
The last stage of the Criterium du Dauphine travels 136 kilometres from Moutiers to the summit finish up to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc.
Team Sky’s Welsh rider Geraint Thomas cemented his control of the Criterium du Dauphine after finishing second on Saturday’s 6th and penultimate stage won by Spaniard Pello Bilbao.
Bilbao made his move late on during the gruelling stage that is almost the same as the Tour de France stage 11, with four major climbs and a summit finish at la Rosiere.
Thomas came in second, managing to put some further valuable seconds between himself and rivals for the yellow leader.
Briton Adam Yates, riding for Mitchelton, is second in the overall standings, 1min 29sec behind Thomas, with France’s Romain Bardet jumping up to third from seventh overnight, at 2min 01sec.
Sunday’s seventh and final 136km stage ends in the ski resort of Le Bettex after five climbs.
The European champion, who joined the UAE team at the start of this season, showed just why they were so keen to obtain his services, as he unleashed a powerful surge to the finish to take the title.
Kristoff said: “This is my fourth win of the season, but normally I’d have more already at this point, so I put a lot of weight behind this race. For me and the entire team it’s important to show our jersey and promote cycling in the UAE – and there’s no better way to do that than to win.
“A big thanks to the team for controlling the race and taking me into the final kilometres in the best position for the sprint. I remembered this finish well, it was the same as the Tour de Suisse sprint finish in 2013.”
Kristoff will now gear up for the Tour de Suisse (June 9-17) alongside team mates Roberto Ferrari, Filippo Ganna, Diego Ulissi, Oliviero Troia, Jan Polanc and Ben Swift.
“The Tour de Suisse is next for me and I’m heading there motivated,” added the big Norwegian, 30.
“The race will be hard and with a high-level of competition, but the goal is to do well like I did in 2013 and 2015.”
The Tour de Suisse is seen as the last big challenge for riders ahead of this summer’s Tour De France, with a mixture of time trials, hilly stages and mountainous climbs.
With three weeks to go until the Tour, and an extra week to rest up, the Tour de Suisse will be vital for riders looking to test their condition and could see the peloton push the limits like never before.
Kristoff added: “In the past, when I’ve chosen to compete in the Tour de Suisse as an important prelude to the Tour de France, I’ve always gotten a lot out of it, so I’m excited at the prospect of riding in Switzerland.
“It could be a great chance to use the Swiss climbs to fine-tune my conditioning and try to make the most of any eventual opportunity to achieve a good result.”