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ATOC Stage 4: Shack-Up at the Top

Nice guys finish... first:


The Shack's Chris Horner accelerated away from his teammate Levi Leipheimer and attacking hero Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin Cervelo to win stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California in surprisingly decisive fashion. Horner put 1.15 into his team captain and the rest today on the steep slopes of Sierra Road, putting him in the race lead with two major challenges remaining. But Horner is a very capable time triallist, and his top ten finish in last year's Tour de France and its Col du Tourmalet stage suggest Mount Baldy is well within his abilities too. Leipheimer came in with Andy Schleck of Leopard-Trek and Rory Sutherland of United Health Care, just ahead of a trio of Garmin riders including Hesjedal, Tom Danielson, and Christian Vande Velde.

Barring a bad day, Horner should hold most or all of his edge through the Solvang time trial. Horner has a pretty good track record in the medium-length cronos, and his signature win last year was the Orio time trial, the final stage, which sealed for him the prestigious Vuelta a Pais Vasco title. In other words, when it's all on the line and the race isn't unusually hard, he's solid. So if anyone else has a plan to wrest this race from his and his team's control, it will almost surely be on Mount Baldy. For Horner, there's a wisecrack joke in there someplace...