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Horner closes gap to Nibali in Vuelta a España overall

Alasdair Fotheringham
September 12, 2013, 18:30,
September 12, 2013, 19:30
First Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 13, 2013
Vuelta a España
Chris Horner (RadioShack) is a man on a mission

Chris Horner (RadioShack) is a man on a mission

  • Chris Horner (RadioShack) is a man on a mission
  • Chris Horner (RadioShack)
  • Chris Horner (RadioShack)

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American comes to within three seconds of overall lead

America’s Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) came within just three seconds of taking the overall lead in the Vuelta a España on Thursday on stage 18's final climb to Peña Cabarga. Once again the 41-year-old has shown himself to be the strongest climber of the Vuelta, and with Nibali suffering a second straight defeat in the mountains, this time losing 25 seconds, the tables look to be on the point of being turned in favour of Horner.

“You’ve got to be pleased with any time you gain and we still have another real big mountain stage on Saturday, so it should be possible to get the jersey,” Horner told Cyclingnews.

“I knew from the second climb on of the day that my legs were extremely good, so I told the team to make the race hard and hope for the best. You never know thought, because you’re racing against the best riders in the world, so you need them to feel bad.

“You’re talking about minimal differences between us, a third or a fourth of a percent, you need someone to feel bad or not have taken on enough calories. But clearly today the legs were good.”

Even with Fabian Cancellara having pulled out, Horner’s teammates, in particular Robert Kiserlovski powered up the ascent, with Movistar also contributing before Katusha’s mass attack with Joaquim Rodriguez saw the front group shredded to a bare four or five riders. Nibali and Rodriguez stayed with Horner briefly but then the American piled on the power to go away alone.

Although he said he preferred to have the lead at this point, there are advantages in being able to stay in Nibali’s and Astana’s shadow at least as far as Naranco tomorrow.

“I would have liked to have the jersey, it’s always easier to follow a rider than it is to get away from a rider,” he told Cyclingnews “But I can’t complain, it was a lot of time to make up and now all I need is a very small window of opportunity and I can win the Vuelta.”

Horner once lived in nearby Santander, the closest big city, for six weeks, but he never went up the Peña Cabarga. Nor does he know the Alto de Naranco climb tomorrow. But so far, with each stage and Nibali looking increasingly fragile, that is not proving to be a problem at all.

bianchi1885 More than 1 year ago
Great ride, Chris!
reubenr More than 1 year ago
You just have to be happy for the guy, but the job is not done, but it seems doable. Regardless of what Horner does on Saturday, or whether he wins or loses, Nibali looks terrible.
Raskol More than 1 year ago
Nibali made the mistake of trying to keep up with a guy who ascended that climb 20 seconds faster than anyone did before - & then blew up. He probably thought it was reasonable to expect to keep pace with a cyclst who'd never won a mountain stage in a GT before the age of 41 & is racing hard every day rather than simply going for one big stage. And I'd say most people are not happy for the guy as what they're looking at is totally implausible.
Uncle_Tod More than 1 year ago
I agree, Horner is riding the GT of his life.. if he wins this he is going down into the history books!
Matthew Lab More than 1 year ago
Most people think that way? Not.
Andrea Cerri More than 1 year ago
I agree totally with you Raskol
robinsachs24 More than 1 year ago
He already has made history by twice winning stages and twice wearing red
phathed More than 1 year ago
Rasoki, how would you like people to run around slinging innuendo about you being a cheater, philanderer, etc without any real proof. Horner has been a long time pro who dominated the US cycling scene for years, won the Tour of the Basque country and other races. He's in the final days of his career and this is it for him, make or break. In past races he's always been a support rider and shouldn't have been expected to perform at this level. Also, the peloton is cleaner than ever, perhaps that's all it took to make such a difference? I'd suggest a little more respect for people you have no legitimate basis for criticizing.
perfessor More than 1 year ago
"blabala...' snip. So we're just supposed to look the other way? You go ahead...
TheBean More than 1 year ago
Sadly, we are in a phase of cycling where every winner is suspected. Nibali has been a warrior, but I think the incredible effort he made in the Giro is beginning to take it's toll in this third week. Horner might be doping, might not. The same can be said for Nibali and all of the others. Either way, Horner is closing theGC gap and looks like the race is his to win.
blemcooper More than 1 year ago
This is only the third time this climb has been used in the Vuelta, so it's not like there's a long established history of what a "believable" time is. This is also the first GT that Horner has ever ridden as a protected leader rather than as a climbing domestique (or maybe a free agent/breakaway fodder as in 2005 with Saunier-Duval), so it shouldn't be surprising that he's never won a mountain stage (or any other type of stage, though he was close in 2005) in a GT before. I do agree though that such success at an advanced age seems improbable. But as many have noted, the other contenders are all coming off either big efforts at the Tour de France (Valverde, Rodriguez, Roche) and looking for a consolation prize, or a few months of inactivity plus a few kilos of pasta and wine (Nibali) with the Vuelta originally intended primarily as training for the Worlds. For Horner, the Vuelta GC is the main focus of his entire season after apparently fully recovering from injury.
wilgiro More than 1 year ago
"few kilos of pasta and wine" sounds a little bit racist, about horner is clear, for who now cycling that is "not normal" as was so clear about Lance for all the europeans,
blemcooper More than 1 year ago
Racist...right, pro cyclists don't consume pasta nor wine. Nibali came into the Vuelta two kilos over his racing weight because he was deservedly resting after his Giro victory, performing any GT champion's promotional/publicity duties, and not planning to peak in Spain, but weeks later at the Worlds. Have you ever seen the Sidi shoe ad featuring Basso and Nibali? Basso plays a chef who cuts up a shoe and makes something like a pasta primavera with tortellini (or maybe gnocchi?) and pieces of the shoe, and bakes up the other shoe for something like a meringue, all to serve to his then teammate Nibali. I hope you wrote a letter to Sidi about how racist their ad is in featuring Italians with Italian food and suggesting that they are in the habit of eating shoes. Will you also make me regret bringing up Horner's old habit of a few kilos of cheeseburgers and milkshakes (which he decided to give up to help himself get to the next level when he returned to the European ranks from the relative wilderness of the U.S. pro cycling scene) in another comment thread?
Mark Schwitau More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't say he looks terrible. I suppose it's all relative.
reubenr More than 1 year ago
Meaning, he doesn't look too much like a champion.
blemcooper More than 1 year ago
Nibali looked "terrible" on some of the hard climbs in the 2010 Vuelta too. Mosquera often seemed to power away from him, opening big gaps. Rather than respond with pinache and possibly blow himself up, Nibali settled into his own, steady rhythm, limited losses, sometimes pulling back big chunks of time temporarily lost out on the road. Whether he looked much like a champion on the climbs or not, he was actually a champion when it mattered most, after stage 21. We'll see how things go Friday and Saturday. Can't wait to see what happens!!!
reubenr More than 1 year ago
Kind of like an Italian Wiggins.
blemcooper More than 1 year ago
reubenr - I wouldn't go so far as to say he's an Italian Wiggins. Nibali won't be dominating via time trial and he will readily attack with great flare on descents. Plus, Nibali is going for his third GT win here, he's only 28 and planning for future GT victories, while Wiggins didn't win his first one until he was 32 and seems to be "one and done".
NashbarShorts More than 1 year ago
Raskill, who should we feel sorry for....Valverde? A proven doper... Nibali? A guy riding for ahem, Vinokorouv... Whatever, go Chris go. They all are guilty until proven innocent anways, might as well have a 41yr. old guy win it all.
Snitor More than 1 year ago
Congratulations, Horner! Unbelievable ride. Really unbelievable ride.. So awesome I almost threw up.
Jose A. Alvarez More than 1 year ago
With the mountain finishes at Naranco and at L'Angliru, it is Chris Horner's race to win it. Alejandro Valverde should also have a good chance to win. Purito Rodriguez has a great change to make the final podium. As great a racer and climber as Vincenzo Nibali is, it does not seem that this year's Vuelta a España is his to win it.
hakka_lugi More than 1 year ago
Horner is pure class
HailPantani More than 1 year ago
He's pure something!!
marcello More than 1 year ago
Of course Pantani was the the greatest scoundrel of all, after LA.
bike_boy More than 1 year ago
Andrea Cerri More than 1 year ago
Nibali is tired but Horner is waaaay suspect beating everyone else. At 42 is riding like never in his life, I can believe someone getting better at a relative late age for sportsman ( like Froome) but at 42 ?. Sorry I'm trying to give everyone the benefit of doubt lately but this is way too much.
wheel chaser More than 1 year ago
For someone in the twilight of their career seeing a chance to finally leave a's not so hard for me to believe. But then I'm and optimist.
deemfingtee More than 1 year ago
So it's just as easy as that? If you want to leave a mark, just go ahead and win one of the grand tours? No big deal.
wheel chaser More than 1 year ago
Wanting it more than the others, being well rested, and a course perfectly suited for him is the difference. Seems someone being suspicious every time a rider over performs calls for trying another sport.
bianchi1885 More than 1 year ago
This is how I look at it: Chris gave one shot at European racing over 10 years ago and literally couldn't "keep up" with the peloton. So he went back to American racing. Around 2006 he gave European racing another go, and over the next 7 seasons collected modest but more impressive results as the years went by (from a few stages here and there to GC at Catalunya and 2nd GC at Tirreno -- really tough races). And about half-way between that 7-year period (around 2008-9) the biological passport was introduced. The passport brought down the speed of the European peloton. Lots of GC cheats were getting caught, and suspected GC cheats not getting top results any longer. I choose to believe that Horner is reaping the belated benefit of the biological passport that is keeping the field clean and giving him the ability to stand out from the crowd. And age 42? If there is one sport that is age-forgiving, it's cycling. Look at Jens Voigt.
Snitor More than 1 year ago
Wow.. How does this get thumbs up?
Snitor More than 1 year ago
Joeyjojojr More than 1 year ago
If you've followed Chris Horner's career, you would know it isn't "waaaay suspect" for him to be doing this well. Too many people just look at his age and say...not possible. He has often said, you also need a fair amount of luck to win races, tours or otherwise. You have to be at your peak performance in terms of training, you have to be healthy, your team has to be healthy and at peak, and the other guys have to have a bad day or 2 and some bad luck, and you need the right race for your strengths. ALL of those things have happened for him in this Vuelta. It's why he was saying, even before Utah, that he felt really good about his chances in this Vuelta. It's just that nobody took him seriously. And this is a guy that does not generally talk smack unless he can back it up. The guy has always liked the steep stuff. Could always climb like a goat. He finally has the stars align and is given his own shot at GC, and now that he's on the verge of accomplishing what he always knew he could do, so many posters here are calling foul. Now, that's understandable given cycling's history. Was I surprised Armstrong was doping...nope. Was I surprised everyone and their dog who competed close to the same level of Armstrong were doping as well...nope. Would I be surprised to find out that Horner was doping...actually, yes. If there is one guy that would shock me to find out he was doping, it would be Horner. And to be honest, I would likely give up following the sport for good should that ever be proven the case. But if there is one guy that deserves the benefit of the doubt, it's this guy. Go Horner!
Snitor More than 1 year ago
Stop saying the others are having bad days.. It's just not true.. "But if there is one guy that deserves the benefit of the doubt, it's this guy." Really? The one guy who smashed Hincapie for telling the truth just last year? Come on, man!
sumbit More than 1 year ago
Don't recall this. Please post a link to prove this.
azureskies More than 1 year ago
Andrea, Horner is the Jim Thorpe of cycling, but you are a youngster, would not know that history.
rickmartyn More than 1 year ago
Go Chris!
Jeff41 More than 1 year ago
Over 200/1 to odds on now for Chris Horner to win, when was the last time such a huge outsider looked this good to win a major ?
bike_boy More than 1 year ago
Damn it! I left my copy of the Grays Sports Almanac back in the future.
Greg Khan More than 1 year ago
pessimism is such a poor trait ..
TheBean More than 1 year ago
Amen, Greg. This site is filled with pessimistic posters, unfortunately. Unless their favorite is winning, they throw accusations about. I would rather be called a naive fan than a pessimistic lout.
Geoff Jones More than 1 year ago
more cynical that pessimistic. Cynicism is an unpleasant trait, but you are only cynical when you're wrong. When the negativity is correct, then its prescient critical thinking. Which one do we have here? Heck, I don't know and increasingly don't really care. Go Horner! Hope he wins the Vuelta.