Rafal Majka sprints out of a breakaway group to win stage 2 of Amgen Tour of California. The Pole also takes the overall lead.

Polish champion Rafal Majka won the Amgen Tour of California’s stage 2, powering out of a group of four on a steep kicker to the finish in San Jose Monday. Only George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) could follow the Bora-Hansgrohe climber in the final 200 meters. Bennett finished second by a wheel. Team Sky’s American Ian Boswell out-sprinted Dimension Data’s Lachlan Morton for third.

“I felt really strong today,” said Majka. “We all worked together well and I knew we were in the right move because we were all strong guys. In the end I didn’t want to miss the sprint, so I went early, but was strong enough to stay in front.”

With the win, Majka took the overall lead from sprinter Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), winner of stage 1.

Top 10, stage 2

Top-10 overall

Bennett, Boswell, Majka, and Morton escaped the peloton on Mount Hamilton, the fourth of five categorized climbs and also the hardest, about halfway through the 144.5km stage.

Prior to the final categorized climb, Quimby Road, they linked up with what remained of the early breakaway — UnitedHealthcare’s Daniel Jaramillo, Cannondale-Drapac’s Toms Skujins, and crucially, Morton’s teammate Scott Thwaites.

“We were lucky to catch my teammate Scott at the top and then we hit that descent pretty hard,” said Morton. “We rode well all the way until the final kilometer really and I was always feeling pretty good.”

Thwaites drove the tempo to help make the breakaway stick. He and Jaramillo were then dropped on the Cat. 1 Quimby ascent. Five rode over the top of the last climb. But on the fast descent, the Latvian Skujins crashed hard and had to abandon with a head injury.

“I’m feeling all right,” Skujins said. “I’m really bummed, of course. Besides that, I’m healthy. I’m good.”

Four leaders rode together into the short climb of Metcalf Road that led to the finish. Morton eagerly accelerated twice in quick succession. However, Majka marked both moves.

Bennett then launched a counterattack, and Majka hopped right onto his wheel. Up the final steep gradient, Majka accelerated. The road gradually curved to the right, and Majka pinched the Kiwi Bennett against the barriers, grinding his teeth through the final 50 meters to take his first victory of 2017.

“We decided already a week ago that today we were going to race hard,” Bennett said. “We’ve got a really young team, a really motivated team. It’s disappointing not to finish off all their hard work with a win.”

Majka should be able to keep the overall lead in Tuesday’s stage 3, a 192.5km race from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay with just one categorized climb.

Complete results

General classification