|George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) is pumped to be in the yellow jersey (Getty Images Sport)|
Rally Cycling's Evan Huffman out-sprinted breakaway companions David López (Sky) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis, Solutions Credit) at the finish line in Pasadena to claim his second stage victory of this year's race. 22 seconds later, Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan led the pack across the line for sixth place behind the escapees, securing the green points jersey.
His teammate Rafal Majka finished in the peloton as well to secure his second place overall, 35 seconds down on Bennett, with Cannondale-Drapac's Andrew Talansky rounding out the GC podium a further second back.
How it unfolded
A number of attackers went clear shortly after as the race rolled down from the start line at Mountain High, but the peloton set a high pace through the early kilometres, refusing to let anyone get away for long. The day's main breakaway move did not form until over 40 kilometres into a stage that stretched for just 125 kilometres in total – and only after a brief flurry of attacks from the GC contenders.
As the road tilted upward, Bennett and Majka tested each other on the early slopes of the Mt. Emma Rd. climb, but neither could force any separation. Then it was the stage hunters who went on the move.
Stage 4 winner Huffman, his Rally teammate Rob Britton, López, Edet and Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) jumped away on the ascent. Five became six after Rally's Sepp Kuss made a long ride to bridge into the break. They worked their advantage up to around a minute before the peloton tightened the leash, and the gap hovered there or thereabouts as they traversed the remaining two categorised climbs.
Talansky and Sunweb's Sam Oomen made short-lived attempts to escape on the second-category final climb but neither managed to create much space, with Majka and Bennett live to the danger.
Still with only a minute in hand as they began the long descent toward Pasadena, the breakers had their work cut out for them to hold off a pack full of sprinters' teams eyeing the flat finish. But even with Katusha-Alpecin and Quick-Step Floors pushing a high pace, the riders out front stubbornly held their gap as the kilometres ticked down.
With Kuss and Britton pulling the six along, the break took around 40 seconds into the final 10 kilometres. Kuss came detached after a big effort with around seven kilometres to go, but the surviving five proved up to the task of holding off a charging peloton.
With Morton mostly focused on picking up a few seconds to claim the young rider's jersey and Britton emptying the tank to support his teammate, it was down to Huffman, López and Edet to contest to stage victory. Huffman and López rode neck and neck in the final sprint until the final 100 metres, when Huffman pulled away to nab his second win of the week.
Sagan pipped Quick-Step's Matteo Trentin in the ensuing sprint for minor placings, with Bennett, Majka and Talansky all coming home moments later to seal their GC podium placings.
Full Race Results Here
Article Source: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/tour-of-california-2017/stage-7/results/