Levi Leipheimer took care of business during a short but taxing day in the saddle, edging fellow American Chris Horner to win the seventh stage of the Tour of California on Saturday. The RadioShack teammates placed one-two with Leipheimer winning the 122-kilometer (76-mile) mountainous stage in 3:33:03 while Horner hung onto the overall yellow jersey.
“I’m very happy,” said Leipheimer. “We didn’t make any mistakes.” Leipheimer and Horner crossed the finish line near the alpine village of Mount Baldy with the same time, then joined hands and raised their arms over their heads.
“Levi kicked it and I was just hanging onto the train,” Horner said.
Leipheimer and Horner broke from the rest of pack with less than three kilometers remaining, making the final climb in tandem. Horner has a 38-second lead over Leipheimer in the overall standings. The grueling seventh stage featured just three flat kilometers in the final 48 km and one of two summit finishes in the eight-day event that was shortened to seven race events because of bad weather last Sunday.
Leipheimer said it seemed like he was back in Europe. “The course is spectacular. It felt like the Tour de France,” he said. “I hope this becomes a staple in the Tour of California. It’ll be an iconic stage.” Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), of Netherlands, finished third, 42-seconds adrift.
Conditions for the Claremont to Mount Baldy stage were ideal with almost no wind and temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. The event ends Sunday with the 132 km stage from Santa Clarita to Thousands Oaks.
Tour of California Stage 7
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) 3:33:03
2. Christopher Horner (USA) @ s.t.
3. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) @ .43
4. Thomas Danielson (USA) @ 1:01
5. Steve Morabito (Swi) @ 1:21
6. Alexander Efimkin (Rus) @ s.t.
7. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) @ 1:29
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) @ 1:39
9. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek @ s.t.
10. Christian Vande Velde (USA)
General Classification After Stage 7
1. Christopher Horner (USA) 20:50:02
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) @ .38
3. Thomas Danielson (USA) @ 2:45
4. Christian Vande Velde (USA) @ 3:18
5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) @ 3:23
6. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) @ .3:26
7. Rory Sutherland (Aus) @ 4:12
8. Andy Schleck (Lux) @ 4:33
9. Steve Morabito (Swi) @ 4:50
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) @ 6:16