American Chris Horner (Radioshack) took control of the Tour of California on Wednesday, with a strong solo move on stage four’s finishing climb on Sierra Road, San Jose, to take the win and the lead in the overall classification.

Horner made a solo move on the stage’s mountain-top finish, coming home a minute and 15 seconds ahead of Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) and Rory Sutherland (Unitedhealthcare) in third.

Horner’s Radioshack team had lead the bunch on the day’s flashpoint, the ascent of Mount Hamilton in the final 50km. With an earlier escape group already scooped up, Horner and Leipheimer sat protected behind their team-mates and appeared to be in control of the race until Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) launched an attack on the descent of Hamilton.

Only Rabobank’s Paul Martens followed, but the German struggled to keep in touch with former mountain biker Hesjedal who plummeted like a stone down the mountain. The more cautious bunch let them slip, and at one point the duo’s lead touched on a minute.

Hesjedal pressed on, leaving Martens standing on the day’s final climb on Sierra Road. However, behind the Radioshack train was tugging the chasers. Horner and Leipheimer attacked the bunch, and rapidly advanced towards Hesjedal.

Once the Radioshack duo had caught the Canadian, Horner powered on with Leipheimer and Hesjedal unable to keep pace. The winning move had been made, and Horner continued solo all the way to the line.

Behind, Leipheimer and Hesjedal had been joined by Schleck, Sutherland and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo). As the group neared the line, first Sutherland made a move for the line but was passed by Schleck to secure second place.

Although Garmin-Cervelo may not have provided a rider in the top three on Sierra Road, the squad as a whole animated the day’s racing with four riders in the stage top ten – Danielson, Hesjedal, Christian Vande Velde and Andrew Talansky. British-born Irishman Daniel Martin also placed 11th for the team.

Thirty-nine year old Horner sits atop the overall classification, 1-15 ahead of team-mate Leipheimer. Danielson sits in third spot, 1-22 adrift of Horner, giving the home country a clean sweep in the top echelon of the GC.

Sky’s Chris Froome came 17th on the stage, 2-53 behind Horner, and is top British rider on GC in 17th place. He is also Sky’s highest-placed rider overall.

At the stage start in Livermore, Leopard-Trek had lead the peloton out in memorial of Wouter Weylandt, whose funeral took place in Ghent, Belgium, the same day. Weylandt tragically lost his life as a result of an accident during stage three of the Giro d’Italia last Monday.

Thursday’s stage five is another lumpy one, travelling from Seaside to Paso Robles. The stage’s 223.6km route takes in two category four climbs, Carmel Valley Road and Interlake Road. 

The 2011 Tour of California concludes in Thousand Oaks on Sunday, May 22.

Results

Tour of California 2011, stage four: Livermore to San Jose, 131.6km

1. Chris Horner (USA) Radioshack


2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 1-15

3. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare

4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Radioshack

5. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-22

6. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-29

7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-36

8. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobankat 1-45

9. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-50

10. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard-Trek at same time

Other

11. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-50

17. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 2-53

Overall classification after stage four

1. Chris Horner (USA) Radioshack


2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Radioshack at 1-15

3. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-22

4. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-29

5. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare at 1-30

6. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 1-30

7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-36

8. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard-Trek at 1-50

9. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-50

10. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank at 2-00

Other

12. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 2-05

17. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 2-53

Chris Horner solo, Tour of California 2011, stage four



Flying the flag: Chris Horner goes solo for the stage win and overall lead

Chris Horner on the podium, Tour of California 2011, stage four



Chris Horner on the podium

Tour of California 2011: Related links

Stage three: Henderson makes it two for Sky in California

Stage two: Swift wins and takes lead

Snow forces Tour of California opening stage cancellation

Tour of California to be shown on ITV4