American finishes eighth in confusing Classic finale
Chris Horner (RadioShack) equalled his best result at Liège-Bastogne-Liège with an eighth place finish on Sunday, but admitted he had lacked the strength to improve any further on that result.
"I just didn't have the legs today," Horner said, moments after crossing the finish line in Ans, Belgium. "I don't know whether it was too much training or what. This week is always tough, with Amstel, Flèche and then today."
Horner crossed the line with Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Alberto Contador (Astana). The quintet finished 1:07 behind winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), 1:01 behind second placed Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) and just three seconds shy of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team).
Earlier, Horner had formed part of a significant peloton, which remained intact over the Côte de la Redoute and the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. On Saturday, Horner had predicted the latter climb to break the peloton into "ones and twos", however, by the base of the final climb, the Côte Saint-Nicolas, he was still part of a group of around 30 riders.
Horner admitted weather conditions had contributed to the relative peace within the peloton until late in the race. "There was no cross wind, it was pretty much all headwind," Horner said. "That made it quite a smooth race early on."
The Saint-Nicolas proved to be the peloton-splitting climb as Horner linked up with his eventual finishing group to chase down Valverde, Gilbert and Evans, who were in turn battling to chase down Vinokourov and Kolobnev. At the finish, Horner appeared surprised to learn that Vinokourov had won the race, having used former-teammate Evans as a reference point for the race situation in the final 10 kilometres.
"Oh, well there you go," said Horner after being informed of the winner. "That was crazy in the finish. Cadel must have had a great race, because he was with me in a group of about 20 guys. I thought [with the size of that group] we'd be able to get the attacks back, but I was crossed-eyed there."
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