Rafal Majka takes overall lead of Tour of California after winning thrilling stage two

The Pole beat George Bennett to the line for the stage honours as a breakaway made it to the finish

Rafal Majka on stage two of the Tour of California (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rafal Majka won a thrilling second stage of the Tour of California to San Jose from the breakaway, taking the overall lead of the race along with his victory.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider beat New Zealander George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) in the final two up sprint, as the dashed ahead of their two breakaway companions Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) and Ian Boswell (Team Sky) on the final uphill rise towards the finishing straight.

>>> Tour of California 2017 route guide

Bennett had made the decisive attack that split the foursome in the final kilometre, but it was Morton who had been determined to try and get away solo as he attacked twice earlier in the closing 2km.

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) sprints ahead of George Bennett on stage two of the Tour of California (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Polish champion Majka was able to match every attack though, and followed Bennett up the final rise before launching his sprint early and boxing Bennett to the left barriers.

Bennett was unable to round Majka in time, and the Bora man was able to celebrate a hard fought victory on a 144.5km stage that took in five classified climbs.

Majka now leads the overall by two seconds over Bennett, with race leader at the start of the stage Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step) dropped on one of the many climbs.

The stage's profile looked set to favour a breakaway, but it took a long time for anything to settle, with first riders not able to get away until the first classified climb with around 60km gone.

Various riders tried to get into that group, but by the time the leaders hit the hors categorie climb of Mount Hamilton, seven riders had made it into the break.

Majka, Bennett, Morton and Boswell were away with Scott Thwaites (Dimension Data), Toms Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac) and Daniel Jaramillo (UnitedHealthcare) and established over two minutes lead at one point.

Skujins tried solo on Hamilton and took the KOM points there, but he was eventually caught and his own Cannondale team-mates began to chase down the break.

George Bennett, Rafal Majka and Ian Boswell on the podium at the Tour of California after stage two (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The gap quickly tumbled to around a minute, and despite Thwaites and Jaramillo getting dropped on the final classified climb, the group was working well together.

Disaster struck for Skujins though on the descent though, as he suffered a nasty crash with 22.9km remaining, and stumbled across the road looking dazed.

Boswell, Bennett, Majka and Morton meanwhile pushed on, and made it to the final with 55 seconds in hand before they began to slow and look at each other. Impetus from the peloton behind had gone as they realised the break would contest the finish.

The final kilometre then saw Bennett and Majka make their move, with the latter able to triumph on the stage.

The Tour of California heads into its third of seven stages on Tuesday, with a likely sprint finish on the 186.5km stage to Morro Bay.


Tour of California 2017, stage two: Modesto - San Jose (144.5km)

1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-43-46

2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, same time

3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky, at 7s

4 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data, st

5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 37s

6 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team

7 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky

8 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb

9 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors

10 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac, all same time

General classification after stage two

1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 7-29-14

2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 2s

3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky , at 14s

4 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data, at 16s

5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 48s

6 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team

7 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb

8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac

9 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors, all same time

10 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates

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Richard Windsor

Follow on Twitter: @richwindy

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.

An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).