The intimidating Hors beyond category climb of Mt. Baldy on Stage 7 of the Tour of California proved no match for RadioShack teammates Chris Horner, race leader and Levi Leipheimer, the Stage 7 winner. Andy Schleck, on the other hand, faltered under the beating California sun, out of breath and no chance of keeping up with the strong legs of Horner and Leipheimer.
Finishing 1:39 seconds ahead of Schleck, Horner and Leipheimer didn't even have to attack to get their gap on the Tour de France runner-up.
Leipheimer, who look relaxed throughout the climb, said after the race, I asked Andy, 'Are you OK?' And he said, 'No, do your own race.'
When Leipheimer and Horner continued to accelerate, the out-of-breath Schleck could not follow.
In actuality, Horner and Leipheimer didn't need to attack. They had a one-minute advantage over the field, and could have just stayed back. But since the teammates seemed to be riding comfortably at their own pace, there was also no need to wait for the slower competition.
That was our dream scenario to go 1-2 today, Leipheimer said, who now has an overwhelming 2:45 lead over third-place Thomas Danielson of Garmin.
Leipheimer was quick to credit his RadioShack teammates including Matt Busche, who provided some key pulls for Horner and Leipheimer.
Busche, who stood side-by-side with Schleck climbing up Mt. Baldy, said of Schleck, Sometimes, somebody has an off day and somebody has an on day. He's obviously not in his best condition, but it's pretty sweet to know that you can put one of the world's best riders in the hurt.
The heavily favored Schleck will no doubt be in top form for the Tour de France, which starts in just over one month. With Contador's participation still a mystery, Schleck's main competition may come from the RadioShack teammates.
Horner and Leipheimer certainly showed the combo will be a force to be reckoned with.
Said Horner after his impressive Stage 4 win on Wednesday, It's pretty simple to see that in the last four years my form has been with the best in the world and with the exception of Alberto Contador I don't think there's anyone that can drop me.
Horner proved that today. He will have another chance to prove it at the Tour de France when he goes head-to-head with Schleck again.
For now, Horner can enjoy his Tour of California lead. He will now doubt win after tomorrow's Stage 8.
Stage 8 will take the riders from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks. The 129 km (80 mile) route will likely a sprinter's team duel or a breakaway group.
It will also be the likely celebratory stage for Horner, Leipheimer, and RadioShack to enjoy their 1-2 victory.