With Taylor Phinney's (BMC) successful late attack into Santa Barbara at the Tour of California on Thursday, the peloton was left to sprint for the minor places for the second consecutive day. Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) battled for second place with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) not making it over final climb of the day in the peloton.
The Slovakian national champion just edged Goss to line with the consolation of a visit to the podium for the Australian.
A six-man break was never allowed a gap of more than two minutes as Team Sky controlled the race but when Phinney launched his attack, there was no catching the former American time trial champion. Cannondale and GreenEdge took over pace making responsibilities but it would prove fruitless as Phinney flew to the stage victory.
"Without radios, there was some confusion that there was a rider off the front," said sports director Matt Wilson. "It wasn't until about 12 kilometres to go that the guys knew there was a rider away. Even then they didn't know it was Phinney."
"We were totally committed to helping Cannondale catch Phinney," said Wilson. "We weren't playing any games. We sent two guys to the front straight away and a third later joined the chase."
Wilson explained that he didn't expect Phinney to survive with the sprinters team on the front of the peloton and Sagan hungry for his first win on American soil in 2014.
"I definitely didn't see that one coming," continued Wilson. "We knew if Sagan was at the finish, he would be hard to beat, but we never expected to see someone get away with 25 kilometres to go."
GreenEdge will be hoping they can again make it onto the podium with fifth placed Adam Yates the team's protected rider for the overall. "Adam was quite disappointed the other day [Mt Diablo] and he wants to get it right," Wilson said. "He's our man tomorrow."