of California in February.
France’s loss is Oregon’s gain.
With their Astana Cycling Team not invited to the Tour de France (after being linked to a doping scandal in 2007), top professional road racers Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner have decided to race in the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic.
The race will be held in and around Bend, Oregon on July 9-13. The announcement was made today by race organizers.
Cascade’s technical director Brad Ross, says getting Horner and Leipheimer to race in Bend is a “coup”. “We think it’s a very big deal. It’s the first time ever that a reigning Tour de France podium finisher has come back and done a race like this.”
Ross says Leipheimer is “one of the top three or four pros in the world,” a fact that was confirmed by his third place finish in the 2007 Tour de France. In February, Leipheimer won the Tour of California for the second time and he recently finished in the top 20 in the Giro d’ Italia while supporting his teammate and race winner Alberto Contador.
Horner — who was featured on the front page of the Oregonian’s sport section on Tuesday — is a Bend local who dominated the domestic racing circuit for years before making the big leap to European competition. Horner has worked his way into being a solid threat in the European peloton, finishing 11th in the 2007 Tour de France while working for his teammate Cadel Evans, who finished second.
What does Ross think of their possible race strategy? “We’ve been thinking that Leipheimer will help Horner win… they’re both preparing for the Olympics and really, either one of them could win if they put their mind to it.”
To take home the victory, Leipheimer and Horner will face off against the best riders on the top U.S.-based teams including; Garmin/Chipotle, Health Net, Toyota United, and Rock Racing. Also gunning for stage wins will be Portland’s own Doug Ollerenshaw, climbing phenom Tom Danielson, Spain’s Santiago Botero, and others.
The Cascade Classic is in its 29th year and it is the longest consecutively run elite-level stage race in the country.