The American from Garmin-Sharp beat Ken Hanson (Optum/Kelly Benefit) and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) to the line in a bunch sprint at the end of the 134.5 km stage from Santa Clarita
It was Farrar’s 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.
''When your adrenaline is going and the line looks like it's right there, it's hard to be patient. 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.''
Colombia’s stage two winner Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) finished safely in the pack to retain his 12-second lead on GC over American Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
Frank Pipp (Bissell), Chad Beyer (Champion System), Nathan Brown (Bontrager), James Stemper (5 Hour Energy), Chris Baldwin (Bissell) and Marsh Cooper (Optum) were involved in an early break that opened up a 3:30 lead but the sprinters’ teams kept the escape in check and they were caught inside the final 20km
The eight-day event continues on Thursday with a 166km stage from Santa Barbara to Avila Beach.
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- Gianni Meersman