Chris Horner (United States of America) has achieved a lot in his career since he turned professional in 2005. He’s won the Tour of California (2011), ridden five Tours de France, three Vuelta’s, a Giro and yet this will be the first time he’s been included in the national team for the Olympic Games. It’s fair to say, this is one of his biggest achievements to date.
"It's unbelievable," Horner told The Oregonian. "I've been trying to be part of the Olympics since '92. I went to my first Olympic trials in Altoona, Pa. I was quite young then, I think maybe 19."
Horner is by far the most experienced rider in the team and will be joined by Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Taylor Phinney (BMC) for the 250km road race.
"It's a pretty grand thing to see the size of it and the scope. Everybody walking around in it is an athlete. That's when I really I started to realise I was at the Olympics," Horner said.
Horner is ‘fresh’ from a 13th-place finish at this year’s Tour de France and the 40-year-old will be one of the team’s front-runners in the 250km race. Horner and the Tour's Youth Classification winner, Tejay Van Garderen will be charged with staying with the front group for as long as possible.
"I didn't really believe there was time in your 40s to still be making it [to the Olympics]," said Horner.
"If the group splits in half, it's not going to be my job or Tejay's job to stay with Farrar. Unless Farrar comes up to us in the race and says, 'Guys I have exceptional legs. This is it. I can do it.' Otherwise it's my job and Tejay's job to stay in the front group," he said.
Farrar, like Horner is experiencing his first Olympic Games and while he didn’t enjoy his best Tour de France, he was hopefully that he has recovered sufficiently to obtain a good result.
"The Olympics are something you dream about your whole life, but until you actually get there and you are actually standing there at the Olympics, I don't think you can really comprehend it," Farrar told NBC Sports.
While the US's road captain Horner was looking forward to achieving a result, he said that Peter Sagan (Slovakia) was the real threat to win the gold medal come Sunday. Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) may be the people’s favourite if it comes down to a sprint but Horner believes the race will be impacted significantly by one man, Sagan.
"I would put him down in this race as my absolute favorite here if he can race with the same form he has had all year, which I don't see why not. He's going to be very strong in the climb," Horner said.
"He's going to destroy the field up the climb at some point. He's not going to want to come to the finish with Cavendish," Horner told Reuters.