(CNN) -- Australia's Cadel Evans took the leader's yellow jersey in the Dauphine Libere cycling race with a strong performance in Wednesday's 42.4 kilometer individual time-trial in Valence.
Evans leads the Dauphine Libere after finishing second in Wednesday's time-trial.
Evans claimed second place to Team Columbia's Bert Grabsch, the world champion in the discipline, who covered the largely flat course in 51 minutes 26 seconds.
Evans was only seven seconds behind German Grabsch with Britain's David Millar at 36 seconds in third place for the Garmin team.
Astana's Alberto Contador finished fourth on the stage but lost 37 seconds to Evans, his main rival for the overall classification.
The Spaniard now trails by 45 seconds in the race for overall honors.
Dutchman Niki Terpstra, who had claimed the yellow jersey with a superb victory in Tuesday's third stage, rode without tri bars and finished over five minutes back.
Contador and Evans are set to battle it out on Thursday's fifth stage on Mont Ventoux, but other overall contenders lost time in the time-trial with last year's winner Alejandro Valverde of Spain over a minute-and-a-half behind.
Grabsch, who was giving cycling's most successful team another stage victory, is not expected to challenge on the mountain stages, despite currently lying in third place in the overall classification.
The Dauphine Libere is an important warm-up event for next month's Tour de France where Contador will bid to win for the second time -- despite facing strong competition from his team-mate and seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong.