After escaping with Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing), Talansky was able to distance the diminutive Colombian on the drop to the line to finish as the winner.
The pair rode away from overnight race-leader Australian Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) inside the final 4km of the stage and although they rarely collaborated, with Talansky doing most of the work, they had enough to distance on Morton and Adrien Costa (Axeon Hagens Berman) for Talansky to take yellow.
With one stage remaining, Talansky now leads Morton by 22 seconds with Costa in third at 56 seconds.
"It’s definitely been awhile," Talansky said in the post-race press conference. "It’s been two years since I rode my best in the Tour in 2014 before I crashed and had to go home.
"It’s a great feeling to win again," he said. "To win the stage is really special, and to be sitting here in yellow is great. We have another day of racing to go, but to win the stage was really nice."
"I think you’d have to look back pretty far to see when I won an actual stage and not the overall race."
As it happened
The queen stage of the Tour of Utah saw the peloton compete over 183.4km from Snowbasin to Snowbird Ski Resort. The route included just two KOMs but an aggregate of more than 3,400 metres of climbing.
The early breakaway was slow to establish but finally a break of 13 emerged. In the group were Ben King (Cannondale-Drapac), Rick Zabel (BMC Racing), Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM Cycling), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare), Nielson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman), Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel), Stephen Bassett (Team Jamis), Emerson Oronte (Rally Cycling), Kris Dahl (Silber Pro Cycling), Luis Amaran (Team Jamis), Chad Beyer (Lupus Racing) and Dion Smith (One Pro Cycling).
The leaders built a maximum advantage of five minutes, but from there the chase, led by Jelly Belly-Maxxis for Aussie race-leader Lachlan Morton set about bring them back.
When the leaders were near the top of the climb the break began to splinter, Beyer attacked and a chase group of four that included King, Eaton and Powless formed the first chase group.
Beyer was eventually brought back to the fold and on the flat transition to the base of the climb of Little Cottonwood, the break held a small gap over a chase from Nicolae Tanovitchii (Lupus) and Kevin Ledanois (Fortuneo-Vital Concept).
King dropped Beyer, Powless and Eaton, who faded back to the peloton as Tanovitchii and Ledanois chased in the attempt to bridge to King.
In the peloton, Cannondale was setting the pace for Talansky, thinning out the main group down to the strong climbers.
Disaster struck as a TV moto crash in the groups sent riders scrambling to avoid a crash. The fall caused a split in the field, with an elite lead group forming including Morton, Talansky, Costa, Atapuma, Rob Britton (Rally Cycling), Eisenhart, Rob Squire (Holowesko), Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo), Janier Acevedo (Team Jamis) and Andre Krasilnikau (Holowesko). King had surrendered his lead by this stage, fading out of the back of the main group of favourites.
Atapuma attacked from that move, with the Colombian quickly getting an advantage and Talansky the only one able to follow.
“It is a great feeling to win again. To win the stage is really special. Sitting here in yellow is great, but we have another day of racing,” said Talansky, who waited until his main competitor, Lachlan Morton, was isolated to attack on the ten kilometre climb to Snowbird Resort. “At the end of the day, we thought the best way was to go head to head with Lachlan. Then whoever had the better day would win. I didn't know how Lachlan would be or how he would respond. This would just be one-on-one.”
Morton, Acevedo and Costa tried to catch the leaders, but they couldn’t match the BMC and Cannondale rider. Talansky hit out on the downhill run to the finish and took the win just ahead of Atapuma.
More moto mishaps
There was yet another incident in the ongoing saga between the motorbikes on the race course and riders on this stage.
Thankfully, noone was hurt in the incident but it did affect the race result as the split in the main bunch occurred directly as a result of the motorbike crashing.
After the stage Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon Hagens Berman) was absolutely ropable.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," Geoghegan Hart told Cyclingnews. "The motorbike crashed off the road. They have one job, and it's not to film the race, it's to be safe. It's not for them, though, it's obviously not."
Chris Horner (Lupus Racing) was behind the incident but was pragmatic about its impact on the race.
"OK, if you were going to win it's not enough to stop you from winning," said Horner. "But if you're on the limit you weren't gonna to come back."
"That's where the split came right then. Cunego was behind the motorcycle, then Janez Brajkovic. We came around and Janez tried to close it and then blew.
"Then Cunego went steady but we could never close it again. We got close, but … I wasn't gonna win anyways."
In the race communique released by the UCI officials after the stage, TV moto 2 was fined $1,000.