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Defending Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco champion Chris Horner (RadioShack) on the decisive Alto de la Antigua ascent.
Leipheimer and Horner to lead two pronged attack
Team RadioShack will go to the Amgen Tour of California (May 15-22) with the clear ambition of winning the overall classification. An in form Chris Horner will join three time winner Levi Leipheimer to make a formidable leadership duo. Since the beginning of the season the Tour of California has been one of their big objectives and both riders are ready for the challenge. They will be surrounded by a strong group of riders combining a mixture of experience and young talent.
"There is no doubt that this is one of our biggest events of the year," said Team Manager Johan Bruyneel.
"We are an American registered team. Our biggest sponsors are American. So this race is important to our sponsors and therefore important to the team.
"Three-time winner Levi Leipheimer will of course be our leader," continued Bruyneel.
"This race suits him very well and this year even more than the previous ones. The race route has become harder; we now have two mountaintop finishes, and then there is the time trial in Solvang. Levi has never lost there. Chris Horner will be our perfect alternative. Thanks to his performances earlier this year in Catalunya and the Basque Country he deserves the co-leadership.
"Chris never disappoints us. Age doesn't seem to have an impact on him. In fact like a fine win he only seems to improve," the Radioshack team manager joked.
Bruyneel is all too aware however that 2011 edition of the Amgen Tour of California will be no pushover despite fielding one of the strongest team lineups.
"Every year the teams are sending better riders to this race. Andy Schleck will be there - and with the ambition to win, and then there are the other American teams. Garmin-Cervélo and HTC-Highroad are as keen as we are to take the victory and don't forget BMC.
Nonetheless the Belgian was optimistic about the team’s chances.
We've won the Tour of California 3 out of 5 times. Hopefully we'll make it 4 out of 6. We will fight for it," assured Johan Bruyneel.