Saturn's Chris Horner beats big-gun field to win T-Mobile International

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- When Lance Armstrong dropped out after 50 miles Sunday, Chris Horner perfectly executed his team's strategy and won the T-Mobile International (formerly known as the San Francisco Grand Prix).

Armstrong, the five-time Tour de France winner competing in his final North American cycling race of the season, was still feeling the effects of a 102-degree Fahrenheit fever and flu-like symptoms from Friday.

"I just couldn't recover from the bug," said Armstrong, who has never won the race formerly known as the San Francisco Grand Prix. "I knew right away I wasn't good."

Mark McCormack, Horner's Saturn teammate, set up the win by attacking the lead group and forcing the tempo earlier than the other riders would have liked in the 15-lap race. After lead group caught McCormack, they had nothing left for Horner's counterattack.

"It's pretty rare to have a plan, execute it and have it go down like that," McCormack said.

Horner actually thought he still had one lap to go when he sped past the cheering onlookers with his head down at the finish line. It wasn't until he heard the announcer's screams 80 meters later that he realized he had won the Pro Cycling Tour's last race of the year.

"I had no clue," Horner said. "I was 100 percent certain that I had one lap to go. People were on the radio telling me, 'You got it, you got it.' But I never heard anyone say, 'Horner, this is the last lap,' and there was such a headwind that I had my head down and never saw the lap counter."

Horner overcame a flat tire with six laps to go before passing McCormack. He then built a 45-second cushion over the final two laps of the 108-mile (173.7-kilometer) race through hilly San Francisco.

About 600,000 fans watched Horner win in 4:24:33. McCormack finished 49 seconds later to clinch the Pro Cycling Tour's season points standings trophy, and Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov won the field sprint to take third.

Horner also won the Tour de Georgia, the Solano Beach Classic and the Redlands Bicycle Classic this year. He finished second in the points standings.

Nicole Cook won the women's 42-mile race in 2:11:18.

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