SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — Tyler Farrar won the fourth stage of the Tour of California in a mass sprint Wednesday and Colombian climbing specialist Janier Acevedo topped the overall standings for the third day.
Farrar, the Garmin-Sharp rider from Wenatchee, Wash., completed the 83.6-mile stage from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara in 3 hours, 14 minutes, 9 seconds for his first stage victory since the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado in August.
"The team did a good job keeping me out of trouble," Farrar said. "I'm psyched. I didn't have the spring (season) I wanted. I was second, third, fourth. But in sprinting wins are what counts, and I'm happy to get the monkey off my back."
Farrar, a 2011 Tour de France stage winner, claimed the 46th victory of his 11-year pro career
"When your adrenaline is going and the line looks like it's right there, it's hard to be patient," Farrar said. "But that's what it took today. I could feel it was a cross-headwind and I just waited as long as I could to come around."
U.S. Criterium champion Ken Hanson of Optum/Kelly Benefit was second, about a bike-length behind.
Belgium's Gianni Meersman, riding for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, was third.
Acevedo, riding for Jamis-Hagens Berman, finished in the main field to retain a 12-second lead over American Tejay van Garderen of BMC. Acevdeo won the second stage.
"It's hard to me to think about it (the overall title) because I am not a time trialist," Acevedo said. "But I will still give 100 percent and keep trying to defend the lead."
Van Garderen also finished in the main pack. American Philip Deignan of UnitedHealthcare was third overall, 27 seconds back with four stages remaining.
Belgium's Philippe Gilbert of BMC, the reigning world road titlist, left the race prior to stage because his wife is expecting sooner than predicted. Gilbert, competing in the United States for the first time, was 50th place overall.
Before the stage, Vacansoleil, the Dutch luxury vacation planning company and the primary sponsor of the squad that includes stage one winner Lieuwe Westra of the Netherlands, announced it would end its sponsorship at the end of the season.
The eight-day event continues Thursday with a 115.4-mile stage from Santa Barbara to Avila Beach.
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