American Evan Huffman closed the Amgen Tour of California with his second stage win, while Kiwi George Bennett takes home the overall crown.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — New Zealand’s George Bennett won the Tour of California title Saturday by 35 seconds while American Evan Huffman captured the seventh and final stage in a thrilling sprint finish.

Bennett, a LottoNL-Jumbo team rider, took the yellow jersey by finishing fourth in Friday’s time trial and kept his full margin over the final 77.6 miles (125km) to the finish line at Pasadena.

Bennett won in a total time of 22 hours, 54 minutes, 38 seconds with Poland’s Rafal Majka of Bora Hansgrohe second at 365 seconds and American Andrew Talansky of Cannondale third, another second adrift.

Stage 7 results, top 10

General classification, top 10

“It was a pretty hectic day,” Bennett said. “We thought we had it under control early on and then it kicked off. I was under pressure a little but the team came through for me.

“It’s a pretty special day really — very, very special.”

Admitting, “I was pretty relieved when I went under the 3km (to go) banner,” Bennett said he hopes his first major stage race crown can launch him to greater feats.

“It’s a major steepping stone for me. I can take a lot from this, confidence and with the team,” Bennett said. “I want to keep building on this in Europe.”

Rally rider Huffman took the stage victory in 2:27:28, edging Spanish Sky rider David Lopez in second and French Cofidis rider Nicolas Edet who was third at the line.

Huffman was joined by Rally teammates Rob Britton and later Sepp Kuss, who had a breakthrough performance on stage 5, in a six-man break, which also included Lopez, Edet and Australian Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data). The group clocked a minute gap before the peloton began to reel them in as they covered the final two categorized climbs.

“I’m happy with the week,” Huffman said. “I came into it with a stomach bug. I’m nowhere near my best, so I’m optimistic for July. “That’s when riders hope to be racing in the Tour de France.”

Morton finished fourth followed by Britton with reigning two-time world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) finishing 22 seconds back in sixth.

Stage 7 results

General classification