Horner delivers Leipheimer to Giro

Astana teammates Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner mastered the final climb with the rest of the favourites

Astana teammates Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner mastered the final climb with the rest of the favourites (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Chris Horner delivered Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer to the top of Alpe di Siusi with a select lead group in the Giro d' Italia Wednesday. Horner considers compatriot Leipheimer to be well positioned for the time trial next Tuesday, where he could strike for the stage win and make up the 43 seconds that separate him from the leader's maglia rosa.

"I wanted to pick the pace up because those other guys were going for the sprint, and we don't have that acceleration. The idea was to keep it so fast that when they accelerated Levi could follow," Horner told Cyclingnews.

The Giro d'Italia, which ends after three weeks in Rome, closed its fifth day of racing with a 24.9-kilometre climb up Alpe di Siusi. Horner stuck by Leipheimer's side when teammate Lance Armstrong slipped off the pace in the last kilometres, with Armstrong protected by José Luis Rubiera, Janez Brajkovic and Daniel Navarro.

Horner protected Leipheimer from the accelerations of Liquigas' Ivan Basso and the final attacks from Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam), Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) and eventual stage winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

"Basso definitely has good form and he was putting in hard accelerations. Fortunately, he couldn’t keep it up, so we’d do 500 watts and then slow it back down. He did it six or seven times, but could not sustain it."

According to Horner, Armstrong should be able to sustain the pace later in the race and in July's Tour de France. "He looks fantastic and he's coming into good form considering his future objectives. He has to stay steady, smooth and not kill himself. He has to keep an eye out for the Tour."

The Giro d'Italia continues Thursday with a 248-kilometre ride into Austria. The overall classification should stay the same with the last climb coming at 44 kilometres remaining.

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