Evan Huffman sprints to a stage 4 win from the breakaway at the Amgen Tour of California in Santa Clarita.

With a charging peloton in sight, the breakaway barely survived in the Amgen Tour of California’s stage 4 with Evan Huffman winning in Santa Clarita. To make Wednesday’s victory even sweeter, his Rally teammate Rob Britton finished second. Sunweb’s Lennard Hofstede was third out of the five-man escape.

“I can’t believe that we did it. It’s still just surreal. It’s amazing,” Huffman said.

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan missed out on a chance to sprint for a win. However, his teammate Rafal Majka kept the overall lead.

Top 10, stage 4

Top-10 overall

The sprinters’ teams whipped up the pace late in the 159.5-kilometer race. Team Sky and Bora-Hansgrohe were prominent on the front of the peloton. Although they were closing the gap fast, and the finish straight was wide and straight, they got the timing wrong.

Ahead, the all-day breakaway’s five men rotated smoothly until the final kilometer. With the finish a few hundred meters away, the nervous escapees looked behind to gauge the peloton’s gap. Huffman inadvertently got a gap due to that moment of inattention. He put his head down and used his time trial prowess to win by a small gap over Britton.

“I was hurting so bad. We were just riding flat-out all day,” Huffman, 27, said. “I just really gave it everything I had in those last 500 meters.

“This is — obviously being a Continental team — the first WorldTour race we’ve ever done so wining a stage is just incredible,” the Californian added.

Sagan, leader of the points classification, had to settle for sixth place, winning the sprint from the bunch. “Actually I am very happy for them,” he said, speaking of the five leaders. “A lot of teams was surprised with the breakaway. They took a lot of minutes from the start.”

GC favorite Andrew Talansky had a scare in the fast run to the finish. He needed to take teammate Brendan Canty’s bike after a mechanical. Then, another Cannondale-Drapac rider, U.S. time trial champion Taylor Phinney, helped pace Talansky back to the bunch.

While stage 4 favored opportunists, Thursday’s stage 5 should be the day for outright overall favorites to shine. The 125.5km queen stage will finish atop Mount Baldy, nearly 2,000 meters above sea level.

“Today it was really hard day,” said Majka. “Today I’m a little bit suffering, but maybe tomorrow it’s better.

“It’s okay. I hope tomorrow I have a great day, and I try to keep the jersey. We’ll see how it is then. This is the first time I’ve done this climb.”

Stage 4 results

General classification