BORA-Hansgrohe’s Rafal Majka, the Tour de France’s defending King of the Mountain, claimed his first victory since becoming Poland’s National Road Race Champion on today’s Amgen Tour of California Stage 2. A difficult day of climbing from Modesto to San Jose shattered the leader board with Amgen Race Leader Jersey wearer Marcel Kittel (GER) and several other sprinters dropped from the peloton as they tackled the steep terrain. When the final results were tabulated, ten riders were with one minute off the overall race lead.
Photos © Darrell Parks
“I remember riding here in 2011, which was my first year as a pro, and now I’m so happy to win this stage, not only for me but also my teammates. We had a really nice group at the front with strong riders…. We went fast to the end,” said Majka, who won bronze in the 2016 Olympic Games Road Race.
With about five miles and a final climb to go, a lead group containing Majka (POL), Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s George Bennett (NZL), Team Sky’s Ian Boswell (Bend, Oregon) and Team Dimension Data’s Lachlan Morton (AUS) moved forward with two chase groups not far behind. The nearest of those, about 50 seconds back, included Bennett’s teammate and 2012 Amgen Tour of California champion Robert Gesink (NED).
After attacking 50km from the finish, Bennett came across the line on Majka’s wheel, with Boswell rolling in a seconds later, followed by Morton, who returns to a WorldTour team this year and earned today’s TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey. In addition to taking the overall race lead, Majka as also won the Stage’s Visit California Sprint Jersey and sits two seconds ahead of Bennett as the overall race leader. Boswell trails the race leader by 14 seconds with Morton another two seconds back. Gesink pulled uphill to the front of his chase group to place fifth for the stage as well in the overall. Bennett’s key uphill attack 50km from the finish also earned him the Breakaway from Cancer® / Breakaway from Heart DiseaseTM Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling’s Tom Skujiņš (LAT) demonstrated early in today’s stage that he was out to repeat history, having won a similar stage in 2015. Skujiņš was part of a breakaway about a third of the way into the 89.8-mile race. He summited first on the biggest climb of the day, the 4.3-mile categorized climb up and over Mt. Hamilton, putting him in the lead of the King of the Mountain (KOM) competition, but a crash on the descent caused team management to end his race day shortly after briefly returning to his bike.
Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling issued the following statement earlier this evening: “Toms Skujiņš sustained a concussion, broken left collarbone and road rash in a crash during the Amgen Tour of California’s second stage. Medical evaluation is ongoing. Skujiņš is now in our internal concussion protocol, meaning he will work closely with our medical staff while following a “return to play” program that puts his health above all else.”
Competition in the mountains came from United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team’s 26-year old Columbian rider Daniel Jaramillo, who in his second season with the team, rode in the breakaway to take maximum points on the first three of five KOM climbs today to earn the Lexus King of the Mountain Jersey.
Tomorrow’s Stage 3 presented by TAG Heuer is a day for the sprinters, stretching 119.6 miles from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay, winding through the beautiful Central Coast and offering two Sprints in San Luis Obispo and Orcutt.
Stage 2 Podium
1. Rafal Majka (POL), BORA-hansgrohe (GER)
2. George Bennett (NZL), Team LottoNL-Jumbo (NED)
3. Ian Boswell (USA), Team Sky (GBR)
Stage 2 Jersey Winners
Amgen Race Leader Jersey – Rafal Majka (POL), BORA-hansgrohe (GER)
Men’s Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Daniel Jaramillo (COL), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
Breakaway from Cancer® / Breakaway from Heart DiseaseTM Most Courageous Rider Jersey – George Bennett (NZL), Team LottoNL-Jumbo (NED)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Rafal Majka (POL), BORA-hansgrohe (GER)
TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey – Lachlan Morton (AUS), Team Dimension Data (RUS)