Geraint Thomas extended his overall lead with a well-timed late attack to distance his rivals and finish second on stage six of the Criterium du Dauphine.
The Welshman was part of an elite leading group that battled on the final climb of the day behind a large breakaway that had been leading for the majority of the day.
Bilbao was part of the initial break of 27 which led from the early stages, but with no significant threat to Thomas’ yellow-blue jersey in the lead group, the battle for the overall lead took place further down the road.
Thomas received superb support from Jonathan Castroviejo and Tao Geoghegan Hart after the uncategorised Col du Pré shattered the peloton with 50km of the short 110km stage still remaining, with the latter able to help the race leader fend off a number of attacks on the final climb.
Stage five winner Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) had gone in search of another stage victory by bridging to the remnants of the initial break, but he was caught by Thomas, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) with seven kilometres to go.
With Bilbao racing away for the stage win, a high-paced game of cat-and-mouse ensued, with Thomas equal to everything the trio could throw at him before accelerating in the final 400m to extend his overall lead.
Despite another selfless performance Geoghegan Hart secured a top 10 on the stage which has seen him move up to 15th overall.
Thomas must now defend the jersey on Sunday's final stage which features five climbs and another summit finish.
Tao and Castroviejo were really good and we were always just in control. We never panicked, but I didn’t want to get carried away."
1. Pello Bilbao (Astana) 3:34:11