Tooting his own Horner
Chris Horner has every right to be happy with his career of late. After a significant but tumultuous stint over in Europe with Francaise des Jeux in the late nineties, including both highlights and lowlights, as well as a brief but successful return to Euro racing with Mercury in 2000, the 33 year old from Oregon has got himself a third crack across the pond with the Spanish team Saunier Duval in 2005, as Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski reports.
The veteran U.S. racer is more prepared than ever to avoid the pitfalls associated with Americans racing in Europe. In 2003, Horner dominated the U.S. circuit along with his buddies on the unstoppable Saturn team. In 2004, his job security was uncertain until a new team, Webcor Builders, surfaced and gave him a ride. However, the team was seemingly the opposite of Saturn - a team of riders that mostly hold down day jobs. But Horner led them to an extremely successful year, with a strong showing in Georgia and a win for Charles Dionne at the T-Mobile International in San Francisco.
These strong team showings, along with his own personal accomplishments, effectively punched his ticket to Europe. But the typical Chris Horner does not ever consider merely showing up a victory. In his fall campaign, he continued his strong year into the World Championships where he made the final 15 rider selection and finished eighth overall (the highest placing American). That result gave him a place on his new team's roster for the next three World Cups, and he began to move up the result lists, culminating with an 11th place at the Giro di Lombardia.
Everything seems to be lining up for what many consider the best American-based racer at the peak of his career. But can he continue his success for an entire year and in the biggest races of the world's biggest cycling stage? We tracked down Chris Horner on the west coast with his family, and even helped him avoid the chore of making dinner to talk with us.