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Chris Horner

Chris Horner (Davitamon)

September 17 - Three from three

By:
Cycling News
Published:
September 18, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:01 BST

Index to all entries And we're done! The final stage of the Vuelta has finally come and gone! It was...

Index to all entries

And we're done!

The final stage of the Vuelta has finally come and gone! It was a pretty crazy day! Normally the last day is pretty anti-climactic, since there's a pretty strict protocol in the field as to what is allowed in the race, but everything kind of went to hell today.

Before the stage, I made an announcement at the breakfast table to all of the 'kids' on the team, that the next time they see a Starbucks, they are supposed to come directly to me and tell me where it is! No more waiting until I'm at the dinner table to let me know those kind of important details! They usually tell me when there's a McDonald's, but I can usual smell McDonald's, so Starbucks is a much more important thing to know about - and much harder to locate! So now it's their job to find all the Starbucks in every town we are in and tell me about it RIGHT AWAY!

Anyway, going into the stage today, everyone was predicting that the Relax team (the only continental team in the race) was going to be the one to break protocol and go against race etiquette and attack before the 100km mark. The unwritten rule is that, on the last day, the first 100km is an easy cruise, and then once the race hits the finishing circuits in Madrid, all hell breaks loose and we race to the line. But, surprisingly enough, it was Quick-Step and Liquigas that attacked.

Two riders kind of got away on the descent and then, when they saw they had a gap, started driving it. That was a HUGE no-no for our field and the rest of the teams were PISSED! But, the amazing thing was that the Relax team was the team that went to the front and brought it back! That really impressed me.

Honestly, the poor team has gotten ripped on for the entire Vuelta - sort of like the triathletes in a bike race or something - definitely the odd man out, but they really came through today! They've been racing hard for the entire three weeks, so they really deserve everyone's respect - especially because they really came through today and showed two ProTour teams the rules of the road. That was awesome!

When we hit the circuits, I attacked and got in a group for a bit. Once again, I got caught with one and a half laps to go - this is the third time in a row that I've been caught with one and a half laps to go on the final stage of a Grand Tour! Ugh! But the crowds were huge and it was a blast racing to the finish. It came down to a sprint again, and Freddy was up there, but it didn't work out for him, either, so we got shut out again! It wasn't so bad, though, as we made a strong effort and did our best - sometimes things just don't work out!

I felt great on the last day - I'm not sure if it was the Fast Freddy gels that I ate right before we got to Madrid or the Starbucks and burger that I had last night but, either way, I was flying on the circuits! Freddy's gels are great - I've got hand it to the guy on that one - there's some serious caffeine in there!

After the race things just got crazier since, unlike the Tour, no one wants to hang out and party - it was a beeline straight for the airport! Unfortunately for us, Fast Freddy couldn't get the job done peeing at the doping control, so we were stuck waiting for Not So Fast Freddy to pee! It took the guy an hour and a half, so we spent the time hanging out in the bus being bored and torturing each other.

Once I started getting bored, I started picking on 'Leuky' (Björn Leukemans). The guy had his girlfriend visiting, but they were sitting really far apart, so it was just too much of a temptation for me to resist! Since he's super homophobic, I went up to him and put my arm around him and gave him a great big kiss on the cheek. He started throwing a fit and yelling at me to get away, so then I turned to his girlfriend and said, "That's not what you were saying LAST week…" Poor guy about had a stroke he was so worked up, but it was great for the rest of us.

It only got worse when we got the airport, though. The rest of the guys got dropped off at the terminal, but since I was taking a rental car back home, I was just getting a ride in the bus to the car rental place. Before the bus pulled out, I leaned out of the window to terrorize poor Leuky, yelling, "Leuky, CALL ME!" while making the sign for a phone with my thumb and pinky. Everyone at the terminal turned to look and Leukemans looked like he was going to pull me out the window and kill me! We've definitely spent way too much time together. Good thing he'll have a nice long winter to forgive me!

Anyway, the excitement didn't stop there - I'm definitely making up for the boring stages all in one day! On my drive back to Valencia the radio was cutting out, so I pulled off the highway to put in a CD that my girlfriend packed for me in my luggage. But when I went to get on again, there was no entrance to the highway in the southern direction, so I had to head back towards Madrid for a while until I could find an exit going south again. When I finally turned around, there were two accidents on the road back where I got off in the first place. So, I think that it was good that I stopped and turned around - firstly, because I might have been IN the accidents if I hadn't stopped (who knows about all that timing stuff) and secondly, I was really happy to have a CD to listen to when I was stuck in traffic forever!

So it all worked out. Plus, I just blamed the whole thing on Freddy, since I wouldn't have been late if he could have peed! It's all Freddy's fault!

Anyway, I'm very happy to be finished! Now I'm three for three so far with Grand Tours - I've started three and finished three, so that's not too bad. Honestly, with a race that's this hard, it's an accomplishment just to survive until the end! Three weeks is a long time to be racing a bike, and with the Worlds just around the corner, I'm happy to be done and moving on to getting as much rest and recovery as possible in the next few days to be ready for the next challenge!

I think that after going all the way through the Vuelta, my form could go either way for the Worlds. It's definitely a bit of a crap shoot, since it's all new territory for me, but I'm hoping for the best! Now I'm back at my Spanish place for a few days of unpacking, relaxing, working on my car and a little riding. It'll be great!

So, that's the end of my Vuelta experience! Thanks to everyone who followed the race and read my updates. I hope it was entertaining or interesting or something! Until next time - have a good one!

Ciao,

Chris

Stage 21 results

Chris Horner (Davitamon)

September 17 - Three from three

By:
Cycling News
Published:
September 18, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:01 BST

Index to all entries And we're done! The final stage of the Vuelta has finally come and gone! It was...

Index to all entries

And we're done!

The final stage of the Vuelta has finally come and gone! It was a pretty crazy day! Normally the last day is pretty anti-climactic, since there's a pretty strict protocol in the field as to what is allowed in the race, but everything kind of went to hell today.

Before the stage, I made an announcement at the breakfast table to all of the 'kids' on the team, that the next time they see a Starbucks, they are supposed to come directly to me and tell me where it is! No more waiting until I'm at the dinner table to let me know those kind of important details! They usually tell me when there's a McDonald's, but I can usual smell McDonald's, so Starbucks is a much more important thing to know about - and much harder to locate! So now it's their job to find all the Starbucks in every town we are in and tell me about it RIGHT AWAY!

Anyway, going into the stage today, everyone was predicting that the Relax team (the only continental team in the race) was going to be the one to break protocol and go against race etiquette and attack before the 100km mark. The unwritten rule is that, on the last day, the first 100km is an easy cruise, and then once the race hits the finishing circuits in Madrid, all hell breaks loose and we race to the line. But, surprisingly enough, it was Quick-Step and Liquigas that attacked.

Two riders kind of got away on the descent and then, when they saw they had a gap, started driving it. That was a HUGE no-no for our field and the rest of the teams were PISSED! But, the amazing thing was that the Relax team was the team that went to the front and brought it back! That really impressed me.

Honestly, the poor team has gotten ripped on for the entire Vuelta - sort of like the triathletes in a bike race or something - definitely the odd man out, but they really came through today! They've been racing hard for the entire three weeks, so they really deserve everyone's respect - especially because they really came through today and showed two ProTour teams the rules of the road. That was awesome!

When we hit the circuits, I attacked and got in a group for a bit. Once again, I got caught with one and a half laps to go - this is the third time in a row that I've been caught with one and a half laps to go on the final stage of a Grand Tour! Ugh! But the crowds were huge and it was a blast racing to the finish. It came down to a sprint again, and Freddy was up there, but it didn't work out for him, either, so we got shut out again! It wasn't so bad, though, as we made a strong effort and did our best - sometimes things just don't work out!

I felt great on the last day - I'm not sure if it was the Fast Freddy gels that I ate right before we got to Madrid or the Starbucks and burger that I had last night but, either way, I was flying on the circuits! Freddy's gels are great - I've got hand it to the guy on that one - there's some serious caffeine in there!

After the race things just got crazier since, unlike the Tour, no one wants to hang out and party - it was a beeline straight for the airport! Unfortunately for us, Fast Freddy couldn't get the job done peeing at the doping control, so we were stuck waiting for Not So Fast Freddy to pee! It took the guy an hour and a half, so we spent the time hanging out in the bus being bored and torturing each other.

Once I started getting bored, I started picking on 'Leuky' (Björn Leukemans). The guy had his girlfriend visiting, but they were sitting really far apart, so it was just too much of a temptation for me to resist! Since he's super homophobic, I went up to him and put my arm around him and gave him a great big kiss on the cheek. He started throwing a fit and yelling at me to get away, so then I turned to his girlfriend and said, "That's not what you were saying LAST week…" Poor guy about had a stroke he was so worked up, but it was great for the rest of us.

It only got worse when we got the airport, though. The rest of the guys got dropped off at the terminal, but since I was taking a rental car back home, I was just getting a ride in the bus to the car rental place. Before the bus pulled out, I leaned out of the window to terrorize poor Leuky, yelling, "Leuky, CALL ME!" while making the sign for a phone with my thumb and pinky. Everyone at the terminal turned to look and Leukemans looked like he was going to pull me out the window and kill me! We've definitely spent way too much time together. Good thing he'll have a nice long winter to forgive me!

Anyway, the excitement didn't stop there - I'm definitely making up for the boring stages all in one day! On my drive back to Valencia the radio was cutting out, so I pulled off the highway to put in a CD that my girlfriend packed for me in my luggage. But when I went to get on again, there was no entrance to the highway in the southern direction, so I had to head back towards Madrid for a while until I could find an exit going south again. When I finally turned around, there were two accidents on the road back where I got off in the first place. So, I think that it was good that I stopped and turned around - firstly, because I might have been IN the accidents if I hadn't stopped (who knows about all that timing stuff) and secondly, I was really happy to have a CD to listen to when I was stuck in traffic forever!

So it all worked out. Plus, I just blamed the whole thing on Freddy, since I wouldn't have been late if he could have peed! It's all Freddy's fault!

Anyway, I'm very happy to be finished! Now I'm three for three so far with Grand Tours - I've started three and finished three, so that's not too bad. Honestly, with a race that's this hard, it's an accomplishment just to survive until the end! Three weeks is a long time to be racing a bike, and with the Worlds just around the corner, I'm happy to be done and moving on to getting as much rest and recovery as possible in the next few days to be ready for the next challenge!

I think that after going all the way through the Vuelta, my form could go either way for the Worlds. It's definitely a bit of a crap shoot, since it's all new territory for me, but I'm hoping for the best! Now I'm back at my Spanish place for a few days of unpacking, relaxing, working on my car and a little riding. It'll be great!

So, that's the end of my Vuelta experience! Thanks to everyone who followed the race and read my updates. I hope it was entertaining or interesting or something! Until next time - have a good one!

Ciao,

Chris

Stage 21 results

Cutting the ribbon

September 16 - A little taste of home

By:
Cycling News
Published:
September 17, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:01 BST

Index to all entries We're on the home stretch now! Yes! Today was the TT, which, at this point, is...

Index to all entries

We're on the home stretch now! Yes!

Today was the TT, which, at this point, is exciting for the guys at the top, and less exciting for the rest of us! It was a good course, and the top guys definitely railed it out there. I went hard so I could hold onto my 20th place - it's the small battles that matter sometimes, especially when it's all I've got going for me at this race! But I got a really good three week training block, so I can't complain!

Normally I wouldn't care, since it's almost the end of the year, but with a good course for the World's, and then the final fall classics coming up, I'm still motivated. Plus, I'm racing cross this fall, so I'm keeping things running at a good level a lot later this year. But, with all the training I got here, I should be good for form for a while!

Otherwise, it was a pretty low-key day. I was getting really bored, so I went for a walk to the mall across the street. It wasn't very exciting, so I headed back to the hotel, but at dinner I found out that there was ANOTHER mall that was loaded with cool stores. I headed back over and found the 'cool' mall, and it had a Starbucks!!!!!! I can't even explain how excited I was - I like Starbucks in the US, but I LOVE it in Europe because it's just that little bit of home that gets me through sometimes! I even found one of my favorite coffee cups to replace that one that Cadel broke during the Tour. It definitely made my night all the way around!

That's all the excitement here. I'm off to watch the end of Boondock Saints and then head to bed. I haven't been too impressed so far, but since it's Europe and I'm bored, I'm going to bite the bullet and finish it. It's amazing how my standards drop when I'm here! Tomorrow's the final stage, so we're going to have another go at trying to get Freddy to the line first. Keep your fingers crossed for us - we could use the extra luck! Thanks for reading!

Chris

Stage 20 results

Cutting the ribbon

September 16 - A little taste of home

By:
Cycling News
Published:
September 17, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:01 BST

Index to all entries We're on the home stretch now! Yes! Today was the TT, which, at this point, is...

Index to all entries

We're on the home stretch now! Yes!

Today was the TT, which, at this point, is exciting for the guys at the top, and less exciting for the rest of us! It was a good course, and the top guys definitely railed it out there. I went hard so I could hold onto my 20th place - it's the small battles that matter sometimes, especially when it's all I've got going for me at this race! But I got a really good three week training block, so I can't complain!

Normally I wouldn't care, since it's almost the end of the year, but with a good course for the World's, and then the final fall classics coming up, I'm still motivated. Plus, I'm racing cross this fall, so I'm keeping things running at a good level a lot later this year. But, with all the training I got here, I should be good for form for a while!

Otherwise, it was a pretty low-key day. I was getting really bored, so I went for a walk to the mall across the street. It wasn't very exciting, so I headed back to the hotel, but at dinner I found out that there was ANOTHER mall that was loaded with cool stores. I headed back over and found the 'cool' mall, and it had a Starbucks!!!!!! I can't even explain how excited I was - I like Starbucks in the US, but I LOVE it in Europe because it's just that little bit of home that gets me through sometimes! I even found one of my favorite coffee cups to replace that one that Cadel broke during the Tour. It definitely made my night all the way around!

That's all the excitement here. I'm off to watch the end of Boondock Saints and then head to bed. I haven't been too impressed so far, but since it's Europe and I'm bored, I'm going to bite the bullet and finish it. It's amazing how my standards drop when I'm here! Tomorrow's the final stage, so we're going to have another go at trying to get Freddy to the line first. Keep your fingers crossed for us - we could use the extra luck! Thanks for reading!

Chris

Stage 20 results

The leading break

September 15 - Getting ready for the TT

By:
Cycling News
Published:
September 16, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:01 BST

Index to all entries Almost done! Today the peloton was really feeling the hurt. We had an hour...

Index to all entries

Almost done! Today the peloton was really feeling the hurt. We had an hour transfer after the race last night, an hour transfer to the start this morning, and then another 200 km transfer after the stage again to get us to Madrid for the end of the Vuelta. That, combined with 19 days of racing, general fatigue, and who knows what else made for a VERY grumpy peloton. I started the day in a bad mood, and it seemed like the rest of the group was in the same funk, and it made for a lot of pissed-off bike racers.

All in all, I'm glad things are about done. I'm getting a cold, which just makes everything else seem worse! The day went okay - it was super boring, which was surprising. A break went away, and everyone pretty much called it a day. We had Pieter in it for our team, so we were set.

Luckily, those Belgian boys really like suffering in long breakaways, which means I'm off the hook! I was positive, after getting into 20th overall yesterday, that a break would go away and get enough time for someone to jump over me and bump me back out of the top 20 (prize money only pays out to 20th place, so that's why 20 is the magic number).

It got close for a while today with Lars Bak from CSC in the break. He was only sitting about 14 minutes behind me in GC, and with the slow pace I thought that he'd jump over me for sure when the break started getting around the 13 minute mark, but then things sped up again for a bit and that saved the day. I sat in the field and cheered for everyone to go faster to help my cause and it all worked out.

Anyway, now there's only two more days to go - a TT, which is mostly a rest day and then the final parade and we are out of here! Wahoo! I'm a tired boy and ready for a few days away from bike racing. Now it's bedtime again, so I'm off. Thanks for reading!

Chris

Stage 19 results

The leading break

September 15 - Getting ready for the TT

By:
Cycling News
Published:
September 16, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:01 BST

Index to all entries Almost done! Today the peloton was really feeling the hurt. We had an hour...

Index to all entries

Almost done! Today the peloton was really feeling the hurt. We had an hour transfer after the race last night, an hour transfer to the start this morning, and then another 200 km transfer after the stage again to get us to Madrid for the end of the Vuelta. That, combined with 19 days of racing, general fatigue, and who knows what else made for a VERY grumpy peloton. I started the day in a bad mood, and it seemed like the rest of the group was in the same funk, and it made for a lot of pissed-off bike racers.

All in all, I'm glad things are about done. I'm getting a cold, which just makes everything else seem worse! The day went okay - it was super boring, which was surprising. A break went away, and everyone pretty much called it a day. We had Pieter in it for our team, so we were set.

Luckily, those Belgian boys really like suffering in long breakaways, which means I'm off the hook! I was positive, after getting into 20th overall yesterday, that a break would go away and get enough time for someone to jump over me and bump me back out of the top 20 (prize money only pays out to 20th place, so that's why 20 is the magic number).

It got close for a while today with Lars Bak from CSC in the break. He was only sitting about 14 minutes behind me in GC, and with the slow pace I thought that he'd jump over me for sure when the break started getting around the 13 minute mark, but then things sped up again for a bit and that saved the day. I sat in the field and cheered for everyone to go faster to help my cause and it all worked out.

Anyway, now there's only two more days to go - a TT, which is mostly a rest day and then the final parade and we are out of here! Wahoo! I'm a tired boy and ready for a few days away from bike racing. Now it's bedtime again, so I'm off. Thanks for reading!

Chris

Stage 19 results

Author
Chris Horner

From being the USA's top domestic rider for several years to riding for a ProTour team in the Tour de France, Chris Horner is always on the up. A talented all-rounder, Chris had a successful year Saunier Duval-Prodir in 2005, and is now riding for Davitamon-Lotto. As one of the team's key men in the Vuelta, Horner will be detailing his progress in this special diary for Cyclingnews during the race. Australia UK USA