There’s an exciting new generation in US cycling coming in fast. It’s just that nobody told 37 year old Levi Leipheimer and the geriatric 39 year old Chris Horner of Radio Shack they needed to pull off to the side of the road.
These two old men put the hammer down on the agonizing Mount Baldy stage and hurt everyone regardless of age, fitness or aspirations. They finished one-two, hands clasped in triumph or perhaps those two old guys were just trying to keep each other propped up.
If a bike race is a knife fight on two wheels, then there were plenty of bodies further down the road. While Jonathan Vaughters and Garmin-Cervelo had promised an all-out assault on Horner’s golden jersey, the sharpest knives were wearing red and white.
First Dmitriy Muravyev and Matthew Busche brutalized the peloton, shelling riders out the back until the back was just about everybody. While there was plenty of talk this week about how many cards Garmin had to play, it was Radio Shack trumping everyone. Then those aging stage racers upped the wattage and rode away, probably talking about retirement, the best place to buy walkers and what foods are best to eat when your teeth fall out.
‘I had an inkling after 3km that I was going to win,” Leipheimer said. “Yesterday I thought I had won, and I was very disappointed when I found out I hadn’t. Today made up for that.”
The Santa Rosa, California native has made a habit of winning the California time trial but had never won a road stage in the race. Now maybe he’s so old he’ll have trouble remembering all this but at least for today, there’s no problem with cognitive slippage.
“The work the team did really allowed me to win,” said Leipheimer. “I never had to step in and defend Chris’ jersey, because there just wasn’t any challenge to it, there was never a threat. I was able to ride my race for the stage win with Chris on my wheel.”
Behind those four wheels were Dutch climber Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) who finished third at 0:43, while Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) finished fourth at 1:01. The GC shake did a pogo and UnitedHealthcare’s Rory Sutherland was the biggest loser. He fell to seventh overall despite the fine efforts of lieutenants Charlie Wegelius and Christian Meier. Fortunately for Rory, his charming wife was waiting for him at the finish.
Garmin-Cervelo took their shots by throwing Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal into the early breakaway. But it was a deja-pointless that reminded Twisted Spoke of last year’s final stage in the Tour of California. At the time, HTC-Columbia’s Michael Rogers had only a 15 second lead over Dave Zabriskie. Garmin detonated the race but still lost by those same depressing 15 seconds. Zanriskie was crying in his vegan burger.
The only other chapeau left goes to Alexander Efimkin who was the sole rider to survive in the early break of nine bold but hopeless men. The Russian goes down swinging and that’s the only way to go. Pour the man a tall vodka and throw him in a California hot tub with some LA porn starlets. That’s our prescribed recovery regime.
As far as those pesky young people, Tejay van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) extended his lead over Garmin-Cervelo’s Andrew Talansky in the oh-so-young rider classification. Nice work kids but you gotta wait another year until Chris Horner is forty freaking years old. Rumor is he may start slowing down then.