Christophe Moreau won stage two of the Dauphine Libere to replace Britain's Bradley Wiggins as race leader.
Moreau's stage win makes him the overall leader
Wiggins, who held a one-second lead after the first stage, has now slipped to third, 24 seconds off the pace, with Jose Antonio Redondo in second place.
Moreau held off Redondo as the pair crossed the line in the same time, 33 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
Wiggins had held the lead since Sunday's opening time trial in the warm-up for the Tour de France.
Moreau, 36, took 3 hours 50 minutes 38 seconds to cover the
97.5 mile stage from Saint-Paul-en-Jarez to Saint-Etienne.
The Frenchman led a group of riders that broke away from the pack
containing Wiggins on the last of the stage's three moderate climbs.
Only Redondo of Spain kept pace, while Alejandro Valverde, also of Spain, was third, 33 seconds back.
Moreau, whose best Tour finish was fourth in 2000, finished runner-up at the 2006 Dauphine.
Wednesday's 25.29 mile third stage is a time trial that loops around Anneyron. The eight-stage race finishes Sunday.