Kiwi cyclist George Bennett has moved into the top 10 at the Tour Down Under after a strong performance in the fourth stage to Uraidla this afternoon.

Bennett finished safely inside the small leading group in 15th place after a punishing climb in the 45 degree Adelaide heat, with his performance good enough to jump up to eighth in the general classification.

Bennett is now 14 seconds down on leader Peter Sagan, with the sprint star also winning the stage after a superb job navigating the tricky climb near the end of the stage.

With a rapid pace being set by BMC's Simon Gerrans, the sprinters - including former leader Caleb Ewan - were all dropped on the five kilometre climb, leaving a select group to battle for the stage.

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That included Bennett, who attacked at the base of Wood Hill Rd, creating a small gap alongside 2017 Tour winner Richie Porte, but they were caught by three riders, including Sagan.

With three kilometres to go, the leading group caught up with Bennett, whose attacks were less effective on the flat finish to the line, leaving the reduced bunch to contest the sprint to the line.

There, Sagan - the three-time defending world champion - was always the favourite to win, storming past Mitchelton Scott's Daryl Impey to win the stage and take the leader's Ochre jersey.

Bennett - who has finished in the leading bunch in every stage - continues his strong form. Having undergone surgery in December and not raced since abandoning the Vuelta a Espana, Bennett surprised himself to finish fourth at the national championships, and has kept up his impressive start in Australia.

He will have a chance to fight for the overall honours tomorrow, with the key penultimate stage ending with a tough summit finish on Willunga Hill, which will feature all the favourites.