Peter Sagan made it three wins from six stages at USA Pro Challenge as he confirmed his sprint dominance into Fort Collins.
The Slovakian launched his kick to out-drag his rivals and reel in a last-ditch attack from Rory Sutherland (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) on the home straight.
Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racng) came closest to the Cannondale rider but couldn't catch Sagan who continued his hot streak on US soil.
The stage looked at one point like it would play into the hands of the day's break with Josh Edmondson (Team Sky) again on the attack, finding himself in a four-man group alongside Michael Rogers (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Sharp) and Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk) in the closing stages.
That move was hauled back heading into the final kilometres to set up a bunch sprint which all but guaranteed race victory for Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing).
The American takes a 1min 30secs into a final stage criterium to decide the race on Sunday.
Richie Porte (Team Sky) was highly active early on as the race departed Loveland as he and team-mate Danny Pate looked to get up the road early on.
With the peloton strung out and attacks reeled in, 15 riders finally went clear and when the dust had settled Edmondson again found himself in the break as the race headed up the ominously named Devil's Gulch.
With 91km to go an intriguing move featuring top-10 placed Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp), George Bennett (RadioShack-Leopard), Mathias Frank (BMC Racing), Janier Acevedo (Jamis Hagen Bermans) plus stage favourite Sagan tried to go clear.
With such a dangerous counter attack dragged back a battle between a motivated breakaway and a determined peloton continued - Cannondale and BMC Racing combining up front as a tailwind aided the break.
Heading into the final 30km the escapees began attacking one another, a strong group of four forming before finally being swept up with 6km to go before Sagan added to his tally.