Amgen Tour of California Stage 4: Horner wins as RadioShack take top two places
39-year-old rolls back years to win from team mate Levi Leipheimer
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.