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Chris Horner

Chris Horner (Davitamon)

September 17 - Three from three

Published:
September 18, 2006, 00:00,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:01
By:
Cycling News

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

Published:
September 17, 2006, 00:00,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:01
By:
Cycling News

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

Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC)

September 14: Team-mates got me through

Published:
September 15, 2006, 00:00,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:01
By:
Cycling News

Index to all entries Today was another HARD day, and almost cracked me. It was the last of the...

Index to all entries

Today was another HARD day, and almost cracked me. It was the last of the mountain days, with two climbs at the end, and with so much on the line, it was a hard day. The peloton was whittled down even more, with more riders either DNS or DNF. That has made it easier to move around during the race at least but makes dropping out seem very tempting!

My team-mate, Olivier Kaisen, spent most of the day in the break, while I struggled from the first kilometre. I just felt totally blocked all day, and it took everything I had and the encouragement of all of my team-mates to make it through. Finally we hit the last climb and I just told them to get me as close to the front as they could at the bottom of the climb and I would do what I could from there. The guys delivered perfectly, putting me in the right spot when we started climbing.

I felt horrible at the bottom of the climb, but things started to get better from there, so by the end I felt okay. I leapfrogged through groups all the way up the climb, and finished about where I've been all race. Funny how I seem to end up in about the same spot whether I feel good or bad going into things! At one point I saw Tom Danielson just ahead of me, so that was my motivation to catch a few groups so I could at least ride with a friend, instead of towing a bunch of random guys to the finish. We rode together for a bit, dropping all the guys with us, and then Tom took off and finished strong. It's good to see him riding so well again after having such a rough start!

Otherwise, there's not much to report. I'm starting to feel the stages now, but luckily there's really only one hard day left. Since things are still close, tomorrow will probably be another fast day and then I'll be set to cruise to the finish! I'm ready to get back to my place in Spain for a couple of days of relaxation - at least until worlds! The end is near and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter! Now it's time to get some rest before tomorrow. And I need to say a huge thanks to my team-mates for getting me through today - thanks guys! Thanks for reading!

Chris.

Stage 18 results

The leading break

September 15 - Getting ready for the TT

Published:
September 16, 2006, 00:00,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:01
By:
Cycling News

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 break

September 6: A delirious idiot

Published:
September 8, 2006, 00:00,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:01
By:
Cycling News

Index to all entries Going into today's stage, I expected a really hard race. The profile was pretty...

Index to all entries

Going into today's stage, I expected a really hard race. The profile was pretty tough looking and with ten stages in the legs already, I expected things to really start to hurt today. The start was fast, with big names attacking and making the race fast, but after 27 kilometres, a group of 13 got clear, filled with non-threats to GC, and then it was game over, at least for the main field. For the rest of the day, Caisse d'Epargne led the field, but at a pretty low-key pace - riding it at a good tempo, 15 minutes or so behind the break.

But for me, the real trauma of the stage started with 15 kilometres to go in the race. I was starting to get hungry, but after consuming tons of 'ride' food already during the stage, I decided I was going to hold out until I got to the finish, so I could get to the bus, grab my sandwich and Coke and relax on the couch in the bus with a real meal! But, things didn't exactly go as planned… With a couple of kilometres left in the stage, I started to really bonk. At that point, all I could think about was my sandwich, so I put myself as far up in the field as I could, so that I could be in a good position to make a beeline straight to the bus after the finish line. Of course, it never works out the way you hope.

I saw our soigneur at the finish, and he told me that the bus was another kilometre straight down the road - not right at the finish as it usually is. I was unhappy to hear that, but Freddy and I got going right away, heading down the road to the bus. We got within 100 metres of the back of the bus, and it started to pull away. I couldn't believe it - I was watching my sandwich drive away from me!

At that point, I was so delirious from low sugar that in my mind, my sandwich really was driving away. AHHHH... The soigneur drove up and told us that the hotel was only six kilometres away, so we could either ride there or go with him. Unfortunately, I was so focused on food and not thinking very clearly, that I missed the whole 'ride with him' part of the speech, so I was convinced that we had to go after the bus. Obviously, we didn't catch it, and Freddy and I ended up riding to the hotel, holding on to the director's car and ranting about the situation.

I was really grumpy by the time I got there, and managed to yell at just about everyone I saw before sitting down and inhaling my sandwich, Coke and any other food I could find. Since I'm generally a pretty vocal guy, you can only imagine how much yelling I did. Once I got some food in me, my brain started to function and I realised that I was a total idiot.

I had to wander around to find pretty much everyone on the team and apologise for yelling at them and being a delirious idiot, since it clearly was my own fault for not just getting in the soigneur's car to begin with. I've definitely learned a lesson - just eat some stupid race food with 15 kilometres to go and avoid the whole situation. But now I have to give a huge (public) apology to our soigneur Frankie, who definitely took the brunt of my stupidity today. Sorry Frankie.

But hey, at least I finally had a story to tell. Now it's time for bed again, since there's another stage tomorrow. Hopefully a less traumatising stage though….

Thanks for reading.
Chris

Stage 11 results

Pre-race at Stage 4

August 29: Calm before the storm

Published:
August 29, 2006, 00:00,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:01
By:
Cycling News

Index to all entries Hi again! Today's stage could be considered the calm before the storm - the...

Index to all entries

Hi again! Today's stage could be considered the calm before the storm - the "easy" stage before we hit some serious climbing (read, pain and suffering) tomorrow! At "only" 142 km, today's stage was MUCH shorter - thankfully - than yesterday, but with the temps hanging out well above 40 Celsius - still hot as hell!

Once again, one of the poor boys from the only Continental team in the race, Relax-Gam, spent a long, lonely day in front on a solo break. Can't help but feeling sorry for those guys - while at the same time being grateful that it's not me out there suffering alone all day - especially the day before we hit the mountains!! But I guess the one up side to it all would be that it'd be a lot easier to get bottles if the car can come right up next to you, instead of having to wander through the caravan to find the team car a million times during the day! I still don't think that would make up for it, thoughÂ…

Anyway, once again, it was a day for the sprinters. It was a status quo field sprint, which Zabel won. Now I'm at our hotel - a cool little place outside of town - sitting on the deck, watching the sunset and enjoying the evening. A little peace and quiet can be hard to come by in a grand tour, so I'm taking full advantage of it!

Tomorrow, all hell breaks loose, and by the end of the day, those left standing will be the riders who will be fighting it out for GC in the coming weeks. Should be a good race! Stay tuned for the excitement! Thanks for reading!

Stage 4 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

Recent posts

  • September 17 - Three from three

    Date published:
    September 18, 2006, 00:00

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

  • September 16 - A little taste of home

    Date published:
    September 17, 2006, 00:00

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

  • September 14: Team-mates got me through

    Date published:
    September 15, 2006, 00:00

    Index to all entries Today was another HARD day, and almost cracked me. It was the last of the...

  • September 15 - Getting ready for the TT

    Date published:
    September 16, 2006, 00:00

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

  • September 6: A delirious idiot

    Date published:
    September 8, 2006, 00:00

    Index to all entries Going into today's stage, I expected a really hard race. The profile was pretty...

  • August 29: Calm before the storm

    Date published:
    August 29, 2006, 00:00

    Index to all entries Hi again! Today's stage could be considered the calm before the storm - the...