Los Angeles - American rider Ben King scored a surprise victory in the second stage of the Tour of California on Monday, completing a remarkable comeback from serious injury that had placed a question mark over his season.
The 27-year-old Cannondale rider's season had been thrown into turmoil in January after skidding on ice during a training ride and suffering a broken ankle which required surgery.
However, there was no sign of the injury's after-effects on Monday as King swept to victory on a gruelling second day of racing in America's most prestigious stage race, a 92.3-mile course from South Pasadena to Santa Clarita.
King prevailed after the peloton failed to reel in a breakaway involving the Cannondale rider, William Barta (Axeon Hagens Berman), Sindre Skjoestad Lunke (Giant-Alpecin) and Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling).
That group of four blasted away during a descent and soon built up a healthy gap of around 7min 30sec at around the halfway mark.
Lunke gradually faded leaving Huffman, King, and Barta at the front.
Although the peloton eventually closed the gap, it was not enough to overhaul King and Huffman who took first and second.
King crossed in a time of 3hr 52min 9sec, just clear of Huffman. Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was eight seconds back in third while overnight leader and defending champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) was fourth.
As well as the stage honours, King takes the yellow jersey into Tuesday's third stage.
King leads the general classification with a total time of 8:12:34, eight seconds ahead of Huffman and 14 seconds clear of last year's winner Sagan in third.
Stage three on Tuesday is a challenging 104.1 mile ride northwest from Thousand Oaks, just outside Los Angeles, along the rugged California coast to the wealthy enclave of Santa Barbara.
The route will see the peloton make an elevation gain of 10 639 feet as it finishes with a climb up the region's famed Gibraltar Road into the heart of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Leading results and standings from the 148.5km second stage in the Tour of California on Monday:
1. Ben King (USA/Cannondale) 3hr 52min 9sec, 2. Evan Huffman (USA/Rally Cycling) s.t., 3. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/Katusha) at 8sec, 4. Peter Sagan (SVK/Tinkoff) s.t., 5. Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA/Trek-Segafredo) s.t., 6. Danny van Poppel (NED/Team Sky) s.t., 7. Patrick Bevin (NZL/Cannondale) s.t., 8. Nathan Haas (AUS/Team Dimension Data) s.t., 9. Bryan Coquard (FRA/Direct Energie) s.t, 10. Marco Canola (ITA/UnitedHealthcare) s.t.
1. Ben King (USA/Cannondale) 8hr 12min 34sec, 2. Evan Huffman (USA/Rally Cycling) 8, 3. Peter Sagan (SVK/Tinkoff) 14, 4. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/Katusha) 20, 5. Daniel Eaton (USA/UnitedHealthcare) 21, 6. William Barta (USA/Axeon Hagens Berman) 21, 7. Sindre Skjoestad Lunke (NOR/Team Glant Alpecin) 23, 8. Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA/Trek-Segafredo) 24, 9. Bryan Coquard (FRA/Direct Energie) 24 sec, 10. Danny van Poppel (NED/TeamSky)