American Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) is riding in the Tour de France for the sixth time in his career, but it is a participation that almost never happened. About two weeks before the start of the Tour de France in Liège, Belgium, the 40-year-old didn't understand why he wasn't in the team's long list for the Tour de France.
The decision stood and his non-participation in the Tour de Suisse reportedly was one of the key reasons. One week later he was added to the list nevertheless, replacing injured team leader Andy Schleck. The Tour de France selection of the RadioShack-Nissan team caused a lot of discussion as also Jakob Fuglsang fell out of favour, reportedly his exclusion was due to rumors he plans to sign with another team for 2013.
Horner on the other hand is content to stay put with RadioShack-Nissan. "I've got a two-year contract with the team. I've got no plans to go anywhere else."
A couple of days into the race it's clear that "the redneck" is not in the Tour de France to focus on the general classification but to take care of teammates. At the end of stage 1, which finished on the 2.4km long Cote de Seraing climb, Horner worked hard to bring Fränk Schleck back into the group with all the general classification riders. Eventually, he crossed the finish line 55 seconds after winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale). It's clear that Horner is not going to repeat his top 10 result of the 2010 Tour de France.
"Yesterday, Fränk and I weren't dropped. We were... a bit too far to the back. It's true that I lost time but that's no longer an issue since my role in the team completely changed. I used to be a rider for the general classification but now I'm in a supportive role," Horner told Cyclingnews before the start of stage 2.
"With Fabian Cancellara in yellow, there's a lot of work to be done. Early on in the stage I'm trying to cover the breaks. We also have Andreas Klöden and Fränk Schleck as team leaders and it's also up to me to help them. It's different than to what I did in the past but I like it. We've got the yellow jersey with Fabian so that's great. I'm not a selfish guy," Horner said.