George Bennett has been bested by two of cycling's young sensations at the Tour of California.

Bennett has finished in third on the pivotal penultimate stage, five seconds behind victor Tadej Pogacar, with the 20-year-old Slovenian moving into the overall lead of the race.

He edged out 21-year-old climbing phenom Sergio Higuita on the line - Higuita going too wide on the final corner and allowing Pogacar to sneak through for the win - and their late surge to the line saw Bennett, who was gaining on them in the final metres, left having to settle for third, just as he did on the same climb two years ago.

It was a decent showing by Bennett, but not good enough to move into a podium place overall, with the Kiwi climber having risen to fourth - 29 seconds behind Pogacar, and still nine seconds behind Kasper Asgreen, whose surprisingly strong ride saw him cling on to the third and final podium spot.

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Tomorrow's final stage has a few moderate climbs, but the last 40 kilometres features only a descent and a relatively flat finishing circuit, meaning there's unlikely to be any changes to the overall standings unless drama ensues.

That would leave Bennett one spot off the podium, and three spots worse than his 2017 overall triumph - a result the always ambitious Bennett would probably class as a disappointment.

Once again, he was amongst the strongest riders today as the peloton faced one of the toughest climbs in America, with the stage ending with an ascent of Mount Baldy.

It proved too much for overnight leader Tejay van Garderen, who was dropped with 4.2 kilometres to go and lost over a minute on the climb, before Bennett started to pick up the pace shortly after.

Only two men - the young stars - could match Bennett's effort, but they soon proved to be even stronger. Higuita, riding in his first World Tour race, was a revelation, and charged clear with just under three kilometres to go.

Bennett and Pogacar took up the chase, but with 1.2 kilometres left, Pogacar left the Kiwi in his wake, and went on to claim a victory which has him poised to become the youngest ever winner of the Tour of California.

Bennett fought his way back, and nearly caught the leaders napping on the final bends, but the two new sensations of the sport weren't about to let him steal their moment, kicking away to leave Bennett forced to settle for third on the stage, and, most likely, fourth overall.