Kiwi rider George Bennett was edged out of a stage win at the Tour of California's second stage this morning.

Poland's Rafal Majka, who had won three Tour de France stages, just beat the New Zealander in a heads-up sprint with Bennett after they helped a breakaway stay clear of the field.

Majka now leads the overall classification with Bennett, riding for LottoNL-Jumbo, now second overall.

But more crucial is the fact that some of the best in the race against the clock, including Andrew Talansky and Brent Bookwalter, are now 48 seconds off the lead.

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"It was the perfect situation for us," Bennett said. "It's pretty cool that we tried something like that and it almost worked. I'm pretty disappointed that it didn't work. But at the same time we got some valuable seconds on Talansky, Bookwalter and those guys."

Majka and Bennett were joined by Lachlan Morton and Ian Boswell in the breakaway, which knew it would stay away when it had a 50-second advantage on the peloton inside the final 2 miles.

The four of them kept attacking on the punchy climb to the finish, Morton going first and then Bennett making a move. Majka quickly responded and those two went clear, and the Polish rider for Bora-Hansgrohe managed to edge Bennett at the finish line.

The third stage tomorrow takes riders 120 miles from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay.