SAN JOSE, California (AP): American Chris Horner claimed a solo uphill win in Stage 4 to take the overall race lead Wednesday at the Tour of California.
The 39-year-old Horner of the RadioShack team, last year finished 10th in the Tour de France as the top American. He completed the 81.8-mile (131.6-kilometer) Livermore to San Jose road race in 3 hours, 27 minutes, 51 seconds.
Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) of Luxembourg, the 2009 and 2010 Tour de France runner-up, finished second, 1:15 behind. Australian Rory Sutherland (United Healthcare) was third, just behind Schleck.
Horner, fourth overall last year in the Tour of California, now leads the seven-day race by 1:15 over American teammate Levi Leipheimer, the three-time race winner. Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) of the United States is third overall, trailing by 1:22.
"I was riding in support of Levi. I always gave him room," said Horner, who began his pro career in 1995 and is the second-oldest rider in the race. "He's the three-time winner of the race and is still a big favorite in the time trial. I think we can go 1-2 overall."
With teammates providing support through the stage, which included four categorized climbs, Horner waited until the base of the final 3.5-mile climb to the finish to launch his move.
Leipheimer followed, but it was soon apparent Horner was the strongest rider. "I wanted to break the race apart," Horner said following the first mountaintop finish in the six-year race's history.
Schleck, who has finished second to Alberto Contador of Spain in the Tour de France, was expected contest for the stage win.
"I was surprised," said Schleck, sixth overall, trailing Horner by 1:30. "I didn't expect myself to be up there."
The stage's severity took its toll. Four riders didn't finish and nearly half of the field finished more than 24 minutes behind the winner.
Will Dugan of the United States and Michael Matthews of Australia did not start the stage after crashing in stage three.
The seven-day race continues Thursday with a 135.1-mile (217.4-kilometer) Seaside to Paso Robles road race, the longest stage.