Chris Horner of RadioShack, a professional since 1995, yesterday took the stage win at what organisers say is the first ever true mountain summit finish in the Amgen Tour of California at Sierra Road near San Jose following a stage that included five categorised climbs.
The Canadian Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin Crevelo had led the field onto the day’s final climb, but Horner and team mate Levi Leipheimer, winner of the race in 2007, 2008 and 2009, managed to bridge across before the 39-year-old made his successful bid for victory, crossing the line 1 minute 15 seconds ahead of his RadioShack colleague. Hesjedal’s team mate Tom Danielson came third, a further 7 seconds back.
"Our goal today was to blow apart the field, and we did," said Horner afterwards. "The last five weeks I was on a mission to come to the Amgen Tour of California in the best fitness of my life. I've put in the best five weeks of training, and it has been a hard five weeks, but it was worth it because it was an easy five kilometers to the top of the summit."
Hesjedal said: "On today's stage, we had the guys to bring the pressure," said Hesjedal. "It was fun to see Levi (Leipheimer) and Chris (Horner) out there today. Chris just kind of rolled away and Levi sat on me. Fortunately, I was able to stay in there and bring a little bit of time back for the team. There is still a lot of racing left and putting pressure on Team RadioShack over the next few days is a big goal of ours."
At the start of the stage in Livermore, a minute’s silence was held for Wouter Weylandt, whose funeral was held in Ghent, Belgium, yesterday morning. Leopard Trek, led by Andy Schleck, then came to the front of the peloton to lead out the riders for the stage.
Horner’s performance sees him take over the race leader’s yellow jersey from Team Sky’s Greg Henderson, with Leipheimer and Danielson moving up to second and third respectively.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.