Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Great Win By A Great Guy

Chris Horner (RadioShack) salutes as he crosses the finish line at the top of Sierra Road

Yesterday at the Amgen Tour of California Chris Horner won a stage up Sierra Road in impressive fashion. It was obvious that Team Radio Shack had their eye on the prize the whole day because they had guys at the front pretty much the entire race. And when Chris decided to go initially only Levi could stay with him. But Chris went again to dislodge Ryder Hesjedal (Who was the lone breakaway up the road.) and then even Levi couldn't hang on.

What I think maybe the most impressive part is that I don't think Horner sat down for more than 30 seconds that entire climb. Every time I looked he was stamping out a very purposeful rhythm that no one else could touch. By the time he reached the finish line and gave his signature salute he left a trail of decimated riders in his wake all the way up the mountain.

Horner dances to the top.

 He now leads the Tour of Cali by more than a minute. Which I don't think he'll have a hard time hanging on to. Barring some sort of accident or mechanical (Knock on wood.) I've heard a few people say that they think he will lose big time in the time trial. But I don't think so. At least not to the GC contenders.

I just loved his post race comments. I was so happy to see how quickly he thanked his teammates. And not just in a blanket statement either. He took the time to describe what each one of them did and how it helped. That's got to make those guys feel good. That their efforts were recognized in front of everybody. When push comes to shove. People are always going to try harder for someone they like/respect.

Another thing I have always found so refreshing about Chris is he will tell you how he sees it. Good or bad. And with that comes what some describe as cockiness or arrogance. But I don't think it is. In the past I've heard him say some real self deprecating stuff because it was true at the time. He never pulls punches. Which is probably why he's a favorite amongst the media to get a quote. Because he'll tell it like it is.

But once it was over and the rumblings on social media sights started to erupt. I was surprised to see quite a few people making disparaging remarks about Chris. A few were obvious. 

Things about his age. He's nearly 40 years old. Which in the pro ranks is pretty damn ancient. I think Jens Voigt is the only rider at the AToC that's older.  But the in this day and age I think all athletes are staying competitive longer.

Another was him beating Andy Schleck. But when you consider the time of year it makes more sense. Andy has a little over a month before he wants to be in top form. And Chris has always been a great climber. It's just no one bothered to pay attention to him as he has been toiling away as a domestique in the European peloton for the later half of his career. But I remember a few Tour de France's where he would be the last guy standing next to Cadel Evans when he was on Lotto. Or be working away for Contador or Lance on Astana or Radio Shack in the big mountains. Lets not forget either that for the first portion of his career he was THE dominant domestic pro. He won everything.   Quite often in impressive fashion. So to me that just doesn't hold water.

Giving a fallen cyclist a ride in the Mt Hood stage race a couple of years ago. Class act.

Another remark which I think is just a bunch of bullshit is that he's on the hot sauce. I mean "Uncle Pat" and the UCI told me that Chris is a clean rider when he gave him a zero on his list. So it must be true right!? Seriously though, I would be floored if Horner ever popped for a banned substance. He's been in the game far to long to not have had something come up on him in that amount of time. I mean 16 years as a pro and not one peep or red flag. I just don't see it happening now.

So congrats Chris! Great job. I'm excited to see what happens with the rest of the AToC and for the rest of the season for that matter. It wouldn't surprise me to see him as either the outright leader at the Tour de France. Or at the very least a protested rider. I guess we will see. There's a lot of racing between now and July. But it wouldn't shock me to see 'The Redneck' do it.

Rubber side down,

Big E


  1. I find it sad that almost every time an athlete performs exceptionally in this day and age, the automatic assumption is that they are on the sauce.

  2. I like the write-up on Horner. He's classy and probably the only pro whom I would like to meet. That being said, that picture of him playing taxi was taken at the Cascade Classic, not Mt. Hood. Also, how did the race go this weekend?