Former Amgen Tour of California champion Chris Horner will miss this year's race that begins Sunday in Escondido because of a knee condition, his team RadioShack Leopard Trek announced.

Horner, 41, suffers from an iliotibial band friction syndrome and was unable to complete the Tour of Catalunya in March or start in the Tour of the Basque Country last month.

"So far the doctors have been optimistic about my knee problem, but as soon as I started training, the pain came back," Horner said in a statement. "The last time that I was on the bike for more than four hours was in Catalunya. There is no way I can race now. All of my condition is gone."

Horner, the 2011 winner of the weeklong Tour of California, wanted to compete with the race starting near his hometown of San Diego.

"It all hurts as I was so good in the early season," added Horner, who hopes to return for the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France in the summer.

The absence of Horner marks one more shift in America's biggest cycling race that ends May 19 in Santa Rosa and features an individual time trial in San Jose and a finish atop Mt. Diablo on May 17-18.

Because of recent revelations about Lance Armstrong's drug use many of the familiar U.S. faces of the tour won't compete this year. That includes Santa Rosa's Levi Leipheimer, who has not found a team after acknowledging his drug use to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency during its investigation into Armstrong.


Advertisement

RadioShack announced former American champion Matthew Busche will take over for Horner as team leader in the 750-mile California tour. The team also will feature Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, Jens Voigt of Germany and Spain's Haimar Zubeldia, sixth in last year's Tour de France.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/elliottalmond.