SAN JOSE So much for the notion of young riders leaving their elders behind in the Amgen Tour of California.
Chris Horner, 39, the second-oldest rider in the remaining field of 138, assumed the overall lead with a dominating solo win Wednesday in the fourth stage and the first mountaintop finish in the race's six-year history.
Horner won the 81.8-mile Livermore to San Jose road race by 1 minute, 15 seconds. His time was 3 hours, 27 minutes, 51 seconds.
He left other top finishers, including RadioShack teammate Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, with about two miles left and never had a threatening pursuer.
Horner leads a top-four overall list of riders who are at least 33.
Leipheimer (37) is second, with American Garmin-Cervelo teammates Tom Danielson (33) and Christian Vande Velde (34) third and fourth, respectively.
Horner said he had all good intentions of riding in support of Leipheimer, the three-time Tour of California winner. The sentiment lasted for about a mile. Horner went to the front on the final climb and built his margin so quickly it surprised even veteran television cycling announcers Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.
The stage was difficult, but nearly half the field finished at least 24 minutes behind the winner.
Will Dugan, who crashed in Stage 3, did not compete in Stage 4. The Vermont rider for Team Type 1 suffered a head injury, and after he underwent neuropsychological testing, it was determined he should not continue.
Michael Matthews (Rabobank) of Australia, another Stage 3 victim, also did not start Stage 4.
The longest day, but not the most difficult, is scheduled today with the 135.1-mile fifth stage from Seaside to Paso Robles that features a long finishing sprint.
Interactive map with schedule.
Photo galleries from each stage.
Twitter feed to follow your favorite riders.