Chris Horner Wins 2011 Amgen Tour of California

News & Results

05/23/2011| 0 comments
by Thomas A. Valentinsen

Chris Horner Wins 2011 Amgen Tour of California

Team HTC-HighRoad's Matthew Goss (AUS) powered to stage win in the sprint to the finish line of the final stage of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California.

Team HTC-HighRoad's Matthew Goss (AUS) powered to stage win in the sprint to the finish line of the final stage of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California.

Team RadioShack's Chris Horner (USA) crossed the finish line in Westlake Village with an overall time of 23 hours, 46 minutes and 41 seconds, thereby capturing the overall victory in the race. Horner's teammate Levi Leipheimer (USA), a three-time winner of America's biggest pro cycling race, finished second overall only 38 seconds back, while Thomas Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Cervelo finished two minutes and 12 seconds behind to claim third place overall.

"It feels fantastic to be the winner of the Amgen Tour of California," Chris Horner, who at 39 marks the oldest winner in the six year history of the event, commented after the finish and continued "I have competed in this race since its inception and I have helped Levi (Leipheimer) win it many times. As soon as they added the summit finishes, I made it one of my personal goals to finish high in the race. Team RadioShack came in with a great squad this year. We had some great help, and the crowds throughout the race have just been amazing."

The 2011 Amgen Tour of California officially kicked off in Nevada City, California, on Monday, May 16, after less-than-favorable snowy weather conditions in Lake Tahoe forced the cancelation of Stage 1 and necessitated a change in start location of Stage 2, with rider safety in mind.

Considered the most difficult route in the race's six-year history, the 18 professional cycling teams competing rode through the state of California, experiencing everything from beautiful rolling hills to snaking winding roads to the brutally steep climbs of the amazing Californian landscape.

"The Amgen Tour of California is unprecedented in its growth and popularity," 2nd place overall finisher and former Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer said after the stage and added "The race keeps getting bigger and better and I think yesterday's stage proved that. It was as big and epic as the Grand Tours, similar to what you would see at the Tour de France or Giro (d'Italia). Having stages like Sierra Road and Mt. Baldy will continue to improve the race, and I am proud to be able to say that I am the first winner of the Mt. Baldy climb."

General manager and owner of the American-based Team HTC-Highroad Bob Stapleton sees a bright future for American road cycling and Americans in cycling. "American cycling is on the rise. Look at both the young and old cyclists who have done well in this race. This is America's biggest race, and Americans are doing well in races all over the world." The top five finishers of the 2011 race were Americans, a first for the event.

Starting in the city of Santa Clarita, the neutral start quickly gave way to multiple attacks, none of which stuck. Riding along at a brisk pace of 32 mph, four riders went out on the attack, including Jan Barta (CZE) of Team NetApp, Bradley White (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, Jose Fernando Antogna (ARG) of Jamis-Sutter Home and Michael Friedman (USA) of Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth. 1 kilometer away from the first KOM of the day - the last of the race - the breakaway had a three minute and 40 second lead over the group. Barta took the final KOM points, and Antogna took the first intermediate sprint points.

Along with Team RadioShack, who continued to set tempo for the peloton, Team HTC-Highroad, Liquigas-Cannondale, Team Garmin-Cervelo and Team Saxo Bank-SunGard all contributed riders to the front as the group rolled towards the suburban streets of Thousand Oaks. With five laps to go, the break crossed the finish line for the first time with a lead of two minutes and 35 seconds in front of the peloton. Leopard-Trek and Rabobank Cycling Team sent riders on the attack, trailing the break by 39 seconds.

With Liquigas-Cannondale pacing the peloton, Martin Mortensen (DEN) of Team Leopard-Trek and Maarten Tjallingii (NED) of Rabobank Cycling Team joined Barta in the breakaway, as White, Fernando and Friedman dropped. With 13.5 kilometers to go, the group held on to a 25-second lead, but was eventually caught with five kilometers to go. HTC-Highroad, Sky Procycling and Saxo Bank Sungard raced to the front and were soon joined by Liquigas-Cannondale and Rabobank. With the sprinters strung out across the front, it was Matthew Goss (AUS) of HTC-Highroad who accelerated to cross the finish line first.

Organizer of the Amgen Tour of California AEG Sports' president Andrew Messick gave the following statement after the completion of the 2011 edition of the tour "We took another step forward this year. We have been working hard to create what we think is a great race; we have aspirations to make the Amgen Tour of California one of the greatest cycling races in the world. American cycling fans deserve it, riders deserve it and America deserves it. We want it to be known that not every great cycling race exists in Western Europe."

According to Messick the organizers are already busy planning the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. "The future starts 51 weeks from now in Santa Rosa, where we will start the 2012 race. Santa Rosa has been an exceptional home to the race and we look forward to bringing it back there next year."

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