The American put in a strong performance on the queen stage packed full of climbing, beating Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) in a sprint for the line on the summit of Mount Baldy.
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Majks holds onto his race lead though, as his closest rivals George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Ian Boswell (Team Sky) finished just behind him in third and fourth respectively.
Talansky consistently looked equal to Majka’s strength on the hors categorie climb, but outfoxed the Polish champion in the sprint as he was able to get first to the into the crucial tight left-hand bend just before the finish line to hold off Majka.
It’ll be a massive relief to the American team Cannondale, who have waited since Davide Formolo’s victory in the 2015 Giro d’Italia to take more glory in the WorldTour.
2014 Critérium du Dauphiné winner Talansky has now given himself a fighting chance at a second WorldTour stage race overall career victory with his 44 second gap to Majka in general classification.
A proficient time triallist, Talansky will relish the chance to make gains on his rivals on stage six’s 24km individual time trial around Big Bear Lake.
How it happened
A day with three massive categorised climbs would always see a large break try its luck against the GC riders, with a big group getting on early in the short 125.5km stage.
Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tiago Machado (Katusha), Nils Politt (Katusha), Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Truls Engen Korsaeth (Astana), Rob Britton (Rally), Evan Huffman (Rally), Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky), Lennard Hofstede (Team Sunweb), Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Greg Henderson (UHC), Daniel Jaramillo (UHC) and Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) were all included in the group, and they established a maximum gap of 3-25.
While the peloton seemed happy that they had the break under control, Britton was the first to try and make sure he stayed away, making a move solo with 35.5km to go followed by former British champion Pete Kennaugh.
Britton broke away from the Brit soon after though at the top of Glendora Mountain Road.
Most of the break was caught with 16km to go with just Jack Bauer, Kennaugh and Britton ahead. Bauer was quickly caught by the peloton led by LottonNL-Jumbo, Kennaugh then succumbed with 12km to go while Britton held out right until 5.3km remaining on Mt. Baldy when he was caught by the battling GC riders.
Four of those GC riders remained towards the upper slopes of the final climb after the attritional gradients saw the likes of Brent Bookwalter (BMC) and Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) drop back.
Majka, Talansky, Bennett and Boswell (after fighting his way back several times) were those four, before Majka attacked with 1.5km left to the summit.
Andrew Talansky was the first to try and make the gap to Majka with Bennett in tow, while Boswell dropped back again.
Bennett made the first move after the flamme rouge with Majka able to hold on. Talansky was then initially dropped before working his way back in and Boswell was also able to get back.
But after the final difficult section, it was Talansky who knew what he had to do on the twisting roads to the line, and shot in front to make sure he could take the tight left-hand corner towards the line first.
Bennett and Boswell weren’t able to follow, while Majka could only stick on the outside of Talansky and was unable to come through to challenge him in a sprint to the line, leaving Cannondale with the victory.
Tour of California 2017 stage five, Ontario – Mt. Baldy (125.5km)
1 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac, in 3-43-15
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, st
3 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 2s
4 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky, at 5s
5 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 8s
6 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 20s
7 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data, at 27s
8 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at 40s
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, st
10 Sepp Kuss (USA) Rally Cycling, at 56s
General classification after stage five
1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 19-47-57
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 6s
3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky, at 25s
4 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac, at 44s
5 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data, at 49s
6 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 1-02
7 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-14
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 1-31
9 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at 1-34
10 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-50