Wiggins wins Paris-Nice; Horner leads Tirreno-Adriatico

British cyclist Brad Wiggins won the Paris-Nicebike race in France on Sunday while American Chris Horner, left, continued to lead the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy.

Wiggins, the Team Sky cyclist who had led the 8-stage race since the second day, dominated throughout the race by winning the final individual time trial — a 6-mile effort on the Col d’Eze.

US cyclist Levi Leipheimer, who had trailed Wiggins in 2nd or 3rd place most of the week, finished the race 35th overall after Saturday’s disastrous finish on the downhill to Nice.

Having already crashed midway through the stage, Leipheimer went down the first time on the final descent as the peloton slowed to make a hairpin turn. Racing to catch up afterwards, he crashed into some Omega-Pharma teammates who had tangled with a motorbike that stopped on a blind curve.

The cyclist from Santa Rosa finished Saturday’s stage 17 minutes after the winner, and his chances for a championship were over. He finished Sunday’s time trial in 22nd place, 1:33 behind the winner.

Another American cyclist, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) finished in 5th place overall, earning the Tacoma, Washington-native the Young Riders Classification victory.

While Leipheimer was suffering through what had to be one of his career’s most frustrating days on Saturday, Horner ascended into the lead at the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Horner, the 40-year-old member of the RadioShack squad, has been battling his way back into the peloton since his horrendous crash at the Tour de France last year. He retired from the race battered and wondering where he was and how he got there.

Horner had been in 8th overall going into Saturday’s Stage 4, a mountainous 156-mile bike race. While Peter Sagan (Liquigas) won the race, Horner finished in the lead pack to gain 1st place overall with a 7-second lead over Roman Kreuziger (Czech, Astana).

Horner defended his lead on Sunday, finishing in 3rd behind Kreuziger, who gained 2 seconds on his rival but still trails Horner by 5 seconds.

This would be great comeback for Horner to sustain the lead until Tuesday’s finish. The Bend, Oregon-cyclist would prove he’s got the condition to compete in another Tour de France; we already know he has the heart.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2012/03/11/wiggins-wins-paris-nice-horner-leads-tirreno-adriatico/

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