Andrew Talansky out-sprints Rafal Majka at the top of Mount Baldy in stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California.

Andrew Talansky broke the Cannondale-Drapac team’s two-year WorldTour win drought, sprinting to victory in Amgen Tour of California stage 5 Thursday. Talansky won a cagey battle with race leader Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) at the top of Mount Baldy after 125.5km of racing. LottoNL-Jumbo’s George Bennett finished third.

“When we hit the final climb, I knew I felt good. I was expecting more intense attacks at the bottom,” Talansky said. “When I realized I didn’t have a good chance of shaking them [the three other riders], I decided to go for the stage win”

Majka, the Polish champion, ceded four seconds to Talansky due to time bonuses, but he kept his overall race lead.

Top-10, stage 5

Top-10 overall

Like he did in stage 4, Rob Britton got into an early breakaway. He then gave his companions the slip on Glendora Mountain Road, the final climb before the above-category Mount Baldy finish.

Sky’s David Lopez rode clear of the peloton when they had Britton in sight. Britton’s Rally teammate Sep Kuss followed the Spanish rider. Soon, the peloton was all together with a bit more than five kilometers to go.

Talansky tried several accelerations, whittling the group down to eight top climbers. Finally, with 3.5km to go, he got a gap. Bennett took up the chase, and Majka followed the Kiwi’s move, bridging to the American.

Although Talansky kept the pace high, Boswell was able to climb up to the three leaders.

With around two kilometers remaining, just before a slight dip in the road, Majka attacked and got a gap as the three others looked at each other. The yellow jersey’s move was short lived, as Talansky rode back to the front, followed by Bennett.

Bennett tried two attacks in the last kilometer, but he couldn’t get any separation. As the gradient eased in the final switchbacks, Boswell again clawed his way back to the leaders and went to the front to drive the pace.

The four riders bumped elbows around the rough switchbacks. Talansky took the advantage on the inside line of the last lefthand corner. Majka didn’t have enough road left to mount a challenge after Talansky came underneath him in the bend.

Both Talansky and Majka noted that they had no experience with Baldy’s twisty finish. Although Talansky has never been in the front group racing for the win on Baldy, he’d seen the run-in enough to know how to play the finale. “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,” he said. “I knew to be on the inside. I had a good sprint, and I was able to take it.”

Thursday’s summit finish didn’t produce significant gaps amid the top GC favorites, but Friday’s 24km individual time trial around Big Bear should. The high-altitude test will be Talansky’s best opportunity to overcome Majka’s 44-second lead.

“Tomorrow, I try to keep the jersey but should be difficult with Talansky, Bookwalter,” said Majka. “I wanted to get some time but it’s not easy today.”

For his part, Talansky took an easy-come, easy-go approach to the stage 6 time trial, which should determine the overall standings. “Tomorrow I”m going to approach it the same way as today and hope for the best.”

Stage 5 results

General classification