Leopard Trek's Andy Schleck surprised himself on the climb up to the mountaintop finish on Sierra Road, finishing second place to stage winner RadioShack's Chris Horner in stage four of the Amgen Tour of California. The Luxembourg native came into the race with unknown form having taken time of the bike following the spring Classics.
"This is my first race back and I really didn't know where I would sit," Schleck told Cyclingnews. "I knew that I was not lazy and that I was working hard. On the bottom when Chris and Levi [Leipheimer] went, I was a little bit in the red zone. I wouldn't say that I took it easy but I went a little slower and went in the group behind."
Horner won the stage by 1:15 minutes ahead of Schleck, who came to the line with Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) in second and Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) in third. Schleck took a break following a strong early season at the spring Classics. He admitted that he was using the Amgen Tour of California as a tune up for the Tour de France in July, leaving the overall classification to his teammate Linus Gerdemann.
"Linus was just a little bit behind the group and I thought that he could catch up to us, but, in the end they didn't," he added. "The last kilometre I tried everything I had. I was surprised by second place. I feel confident for Mt Baldy."
Teammate Jens Voigt offered Schleck and Gerdemann ample support during stage four's 131.6km route that began in Livermore and ended in San Jose atop Sierra Road. "The stage today was very hard and very demanding," Voigt said.
"It was up and down and there weren't many places to just roll along and take a breather. It was constantly working hard to fight for position. Slowly but surely we were using energy for the whole race and in the end it was the survival of the fittest. A lot of riders were dropped on the first big climb and in the end the race was open and everyone had to show their cards."
Voigt was involved in an unfortunate crash during the stage three finishing circuits in Modesto. He appeared to be okay following the crash, however, pain in his wrist and hand prompted a hospital visit following stage four for additional x-ray.
"I survived today so that is a good sign," Voigt said. "The good thing is that I didn't lose much skin but my hand hurts and I can't really move it, also I can't really use it. I will go and have an x-ray tonight to see if anything is broken, at least I would know the recovery and what to do next. My shoulder is functioning and I have a contusion and hopefully my hand is not broken."