Tue, May 24, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Oldest rider Horner wins in California


The peloton is encouraged by Pope Ciclismo as they make the climb up Balcom Canyon Road during the eighth stage of the Tour of California from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks, California, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Chris Horner of the US, who led the race for the final five days, won the Tour of California on Sunday after finishing the eighth stage in the peloton.

The 39-year-old, the oldest rider in the event, held off compatriot and teammate Levi Leipheimer by 38 seconds for the overall title.

Tom Danielson of the US finished third overall, trailing Horner by 2 minutes, 45 seconds.

“It’s just been a fantastic week for me and the RadioShack team,” said Horner, a 17-year professional who finished 10th overall in last year’s Tour de France.

With a solo win on Wednesday in San Jose, the first of the event’s two mountaintop finishes, Horner grabbed a 75-second advantage over Leipheimer in the overall standings.

Although Leipheimer, a three-time Tour of California champion, reduced that deficit to 38 seconds by placing second in the stage six individual time trial, where Horner finished sixth, he was unable to make up any further ground.

Matthew Goss of Australia won the final 129.1km road stage from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks on Sunday after a mass sprint in 2 hours, 56 minutes, 39 seconds.

Peter Sagan of Slovakia, the winner of the fifth stage, finished second, with New Zealand’s Greg Henderson close behind in third after both riders recorded the same time.

Goss, a winner earlier this year in Milan-San Remo, moved to the front over the final meters of the concluding five laps near the headquarters of the race’s main sponsor.

“It’s a great way to finish off a week,” said Goss, who also claimed a stage of the Paris-Nice and six others wins this season. “The plan was to do the sprint for me and we came away with a win.”

The eight-day Tour of California was trimmed to seven days before veteran rider Horner finally emerged triumphant.

The sixth edition of the grueling event was scheduled to begin on May 15 in South Lake Tahoe, California, but an unseasonal snow storm forced the cancelation of the opening stage.

The second stage, originally set to begin in Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, was then shortened by more than 80km because of heavy rain in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

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