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First Endurance rider Chris Horner (Radioshack Nissan Trek) went to work in his comeback race after last year’s horrific crash in the Tour. Horner rode a brilliant final 2k today and climbed himself right into the blue leader’s jersey.

Asked to describe the racing action, the always-animated Chris Horner offered his personal assessment of the stage: “The climb was very difficult,” said Horner, referring to the 252km effort from Amelia to Chieti. “The whole last part was all very difficult. Cadel Evans was the first to go so I went with him. Then Danilo Di Luca went with an incredible explosion. Luckily Peter Sagan dropped his chain. After he fixed his chain, he got back up and did the next attack, Di Luca followed and then me. I thought that would be the final move.”

With more of the climb still to go, Horner was hopeful he’d arrive at the top with Sagan and Di Luca, but one other rider still had ambitions for the day. “Roman Kreuziger came along and threw an attack in on the three of us and I had to bridge that. He was the biggest threat to us on GC so I had to respond in order to take the jersey.”

As they roared to the finish, Horner was last in line as the sprint opened up from the front riders. “In the final to the line I accidentally shifted from the big chain ring to the small one and my hands were cramping up so I couldn’t get it back up to do the sprint, leaving me to just spin the cranks at 130rpms to the finish, all the while losing ground.” Horner laughed and added, “Even if I could’ve shifted back I wouldn’t have won the sprint, but maybe I would have been up a little further.” Sagan won the stage, followed by Kreuziger and teammate Vincenzo Nibali. Horner was fifth behind Di Luca.

1 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 19:01:54
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:07
3 Cameron Meyer (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:00:13
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:21