LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON — Chris Horner won the fifth stage of the Tour of Utah on Saturday to take the overall lead into the final day, passing fellow American Tommy Danielson in the final 200 yards.
The 42-year-old Horner, riding for RadioShack Leopard Trek, finished the 113.7-mile stage that ended at Snowbird Ski Resort in 4 hours 52 minutes, 45 seconds.
Tommy Danielson, riding for Garmin-Sharp, was a bike-length behind.
Belgium's Yannick Eijssen, riding for BMC racing, was third — 31 seconds behind Horner. Eijssen led for much of the race until Horner and Danielson overtook him on the climb to Snowbird.
Horner didn't compete in the Tour de France earlier this year because of knee surgery after earning top-15 finishes in 2010 and 2012. The Tour of Utah is Horner's first major race since recovering from surgery.
His knee has held up from start to finish through all five stages.
"The knee is 100 percent," Horner said. "There's no pain on the bike. There's no pain after the bike. It feels great."
Danielson seemed to be in good position to win after taking the lead on the final climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Horner stayed glued to Danielson's rear wheel and waited until the end to pass.
"I would have liked to win the stage and drop him," Danielson said. "But there's no way you're going to drop him with that percent grade and a headwind and as strong as he is. I enjoyed trying. It was a really nice day."
Horner received significant criticism from some cycling fans on Twitter for sitting on his wheel and passing Danielson near the finish. The veteran cyclist defended his action, saying he had to keep pace because a small group of cyclists were right behind him — waiting for both riders to drop back so they could counterattack.1 comment on this story
"Tactically, I knew I was in a good spot to sit on (his wheel)," Horner said. "It's my right to sit on. It feels bad to do it because Tommy is a friend of mine. But you got to do what you got to do at times."
Horner and Danielson are tied in time in the overall standings, but Horner is listed first because of his stage victory.
American Lucas Euser, riding for UnitedHealthCare, remained third at 33 seconds back. American Matthew Busche was fourth, and New Zealand's George Bennett fifth, both 37 seconds behind.
The 78.2-mile final stage on Sunday starts and ends in Park City.