Horner: ‘44 years old and they’re still afraid of me’

Airgas-Safeway rider feeling the pressure of being an overall favourite

Being tagged as one of the favourites at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah can oftentimes leave a large target on the back of a rider’s team kit, and Airgas-Safeway’s Chris Horner has been marked.

“Nobody will work with me,” he told Cyclingnews after the stage 3 finish in Bountiful, where Horner tried to infiltrate a late-race move but found little cooperation among his peers.

“When we did the final lap and went up the climb, I jumped across to the final group there,” he said. “We had 10 of us or whatever it was, and nobody works with me.

“When the other guys go into the move all of the sudden they’re rotating through like they have absolutely everything on the line and they have to go like crazy. But I jump in the move and nobody works. It is what it is. Forty-four years old and they’re still afraid of me.”

Horner is currently sitting 16th overall with a large group of riders who are 14 seconds behind overall leader Kiel Reijnen (UniteHealthcare). So when Wednesday’s breakaway contained riders who were also just 14 seconds down, Horner threw several of his teammates into the line with UHC to keep the breakaway in check.

“We rode all day,” Horner said. “The only time we were not on the front is when we finally hit the circuit and all the chaos. Of course they were attacking and trying to cover moves and make a race out of it. So Airgas is here to ride, we’ve been riding from day one and we’re here to try and win this thing, so we’ll see how it goes.”

The team’s goal was not to bring the breakaway back before the end of the stage, although that was the ultimate result, but rather to keep them in check so the gap didn’t go out too far.

“Honestly I don’t care if the break would have stayed away by 30 seconds or something like that,” Horner said. “If you can’t out-climb a guy by 30 seconds or a minute, then it’s likely you weren’t going to beat him anyway. So for that matter I wasn’t worried about it. But you can’t give someone five minutes here.

“All those boys, and a couple of the Hincapie boys, they can ride the bike, huh? So five minutes, you can’t make that kind of time up. One, one and half, yeah, you can make that. “

Horner praised the job UnitedHealthcare has done so far this week, especially during a chaotic stage finish.

“It was a great stage, but you could see it was going to be chaos,” he said. “Before we even arrived here you could look up that stage and know we were going up a 15 percent climb right at the end and it was going to be mass chaos.”

In the end, Axeon’s Logan Owen won a sprint from a reduced bunch, and Horner protected his GC position by finishing with the front group
 

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