Los Angeles - Andrew Talansky won the fifth stage of the Tour of California, holding off race leader Rafal Majka at the end of a gruelling climb to the finish just below the summit of Mt. Baldy on Thursday.
The 28-year-old from Florida, who rides for Cannondale-Drapac, delivered a perfectly timed late burst to edge Majka in a close sprint to the line at the end of the 125km stage from Ontario, California into the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Talansky, who is nicknamed the "Pit Bull," won a chaotic finish after a small group of podium contenders broke away from the peloton on the final category climb.
"When we hit the final climb, I knew I felt good," said Talansky, who finished fifth in last year's Vuelta a Espana. "I decided to go for the stage win.
"I've never been at the front of this finish before. I knew there was that last corner and how I needed to take it.
"I'd prefer to be in the yellow jersey right now but we won the stage today and I'll enjoy that. Tomorrow we will focus on the time trial."
George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) kept his hopes of winning the overall title alive by finishing third.
Polish champion Majka ceded four seconds to Talansky due to time bonuses, but he kept his overall race lead.
Majka, of Bora-Hansgrohe, goes into Friday's time trial with a six-second lead over Bennett in the overall. Talansky's stage win vaults him into fourth, 44 seconds adrift of Majka.
Thursday's short stage contained two major climbs. That included a category climb to the finish from the bottom of the chair lift to the Top of the Notch restaurant on 3 068m Mt. Baldy - the highest peak in the San Gabriels.
Majka, a two-time Tour de France King of the Mountain winner, still appears to be the man to beat ahead of Friday's racing, a 24km Big Bear Lake time trial.
The penultimate sixth stage time trial will allow the sprinters to regain any lost ground ahead of the final 125km stage down to the finish.
Results and standings from Thursday's fifth stage of the Tour of California from Ontario to Mt. Baldy:
1. Andrew Talansky (USA/Cannondale) 125.5km, 3hrs 43min 15sec, 2. Rafal Majka (POL/Bora) same time, 3. George Bennett (NZM/LottoNL) at 0:02, 4. Ian Boswell (USA/Sky) 0:05, 5. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC) 0:08, 6. Sam Oomen (NED/Sunweb) 0:20, 7. Lachlan Morton (AUS/Dimension Data) 0:27, 8. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR/Sky) 0:40, 9. Robert Gesink (NED/LottoNL) s.t., 10. Sepp Kuss (USA/Rally Cycling) 0:56
1. Rafal Majka (POL/Bora) 19hrs 47min 57 sec, 2. George Bennett (NZL/LottoNL) 0:04, 3. Ian Boswell (USA/Sky) 0:25, 4. Andrew Talansky (USA/Cannondale) 0:44, 5. Lachlan Morton (AUS/Dimension Data) 0:49, 6. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC) 1:02, 7. Sam Oomen (NED/Sunweb) 1:14, 8. Robert Gesink (NED/LottNL) 1:31, 9. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR/Sky) 1:34, 10. Vegard Laengen (NOR/UAE) 1:50.