Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Saturday, September 18, 2010
In 2010, Chris has had his best season ever with 10th overall and best American at the Tour de France, winning the Tour of the Basque Country, 4th overall at the Amgen Tour of CA, and three top 10 placings in the spring classics - including 7th at La Flèche Wallonne and 8th at Lìege-Bastogne-Lìege (a race he told me earlier this year was one of the most beautiful races in the world).
While he was traveling to Sacramento to participate in a cycling festival ride @clarkscornerca, I got the chance to talk with Chris about the upcoming National Road Championships in Greenville, SC on Sunday, Sept 19, RadioShack not being invited to the Tour of Spain, and his prospects for participation in the Giro di Lombardia on Oct 16 - the last Monument of the road cycling season.
I apologize for the audio quality - I had some very bad feedback when I asked Chris questions, so I had to re-record the questions after the fact and drop them into the audio - so you might notice that in the recording.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Chris Horner (RadioShack) won his first European stage race ever today, beating Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) by 8 seconds in the Time Trial, Stage 6. Going into today's stage, Horner was down by 1 second on GC to Valverde, but when I spoke with him after Stage 5 and asked him how he planned to get time on the leader, he told me "I'll just have to beat Valverde in the Time Trial." He had a phenomenal ride.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010--The 50th edition of the Vuelta de Pais Vasco is currently underway in Spain, and today’s mountainous Stage 4 confirmed that Chris Horner of Radioshack is feeling good. On the final Category 1 climb, after Robert Gesink (Rabobank) wound up the pace and whittled down the numbers in the leading group, Horner countered with a blistering move of his own. Down only 1" second on GC behind Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), he threw himself into the virtual race lead as he road away from the main contenders, with about a mile to go the top of the climb, and only another mile from there to the finish line.
Hormer’s solo attempt didn’t last, although he put about 15 seconds into the leaders. First he was joined by Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and they worked together as a duo over the summit and on the descent. Close on their heels were Valverde and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) – and as these two pairs neared the finish, Valverde lit it up to close the gap to Horner and Sanchez in order to protect his preeminent position as overall race leader at the end of the day. Sanchez (about 1’40” down after losing serious time on Stage 1) countered for the stage win, super stoked as he crossed the finish line and letting out an almost primordial roar as if he were lunging at a woolly mammoth (featured photo)! The Lion of Flanders has nothing on Sanchez!
Valverde and Horner crossed the line together two seconds behind Sanchez. Although Valverde’s comeback took some serious effort, I was sad to see Horner not stay away for a major win in this European stage race he has enjoyed so often over the years since his first attempt in the late 90's.
A few days ago, at the start of the Tour de Basque, Horner spent a fair amount of time at and off the front of the peloton. Clearly he’s been feeling good. I called him up after that stage to interview him for NBC Universal Sports, which is covering the race daily on US TV in the major urban areas that carry their station. We tried to fit the interview into the broadcast during Stage 2, but were not able to, so I’m posting it here, with thanks out to Horner and to Universal Sports. To watch videos from the broadcasts (less optimal on a Mac with Safari, by the way, and better on Mozilla Firefox), go to:
To contextualize his comments about the final sprint between Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Valverde, if you didn’t see Universal Sports' TV coverage, here’s what happened. As the sprint came to the line, Freire’s path took a straight line from slightly right of center of the road diagonally toward the left side. Because Valverde was on his left, as Freire neared the left side of the road, Valverde was forced up against the barriers, with still a few meters left to go in the sprint. He raised his hand in protest, just before Freire crossed the finish line in first place with Valverde on his wheel. The officials relegated Freire to second place and gave Valverde the win.
Here are Horner’s thoughts on Stage 1 and that sprint: (btw, I had trouble with audio file upload of the 5-minute Horner interview after Stage 1, below. The video here is all about audio - please ignore the image quality).
Ironically, in the sprint the very next day at the Stage 2 finish line, Valverde and Freire went at it again, this time starting from the far left side of the road with Valverde in the lead and Freire on his right but slightly behind. Valverde’s line moved diagonally toward the right, then straight, then diagonally right again, then straight, then diagonally right again as he crossed the finish line, with Freire still on his right and therefore pushed up against the barriers. The officials didn’t say a thing, maybe because Freire chose not to raise his hand in protest. So despite similar tactics and positioning during two back-to-back sprints for Stage 1 and Stage 2, Valverde came out with two wins and Freire with two second-places, even though Freire crossed the line first on day 1.