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Chris Horner (Lampre-Marida) tries to stay with the leader on the climb.
American set to defend overall title at 42
Lampre’s Chris Horner says as defending champion of the Vuelta a España he will give 100 per cent in his bid to take a second straight win but recognizes that Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) are the top favorites for this year's race.
Speaking to Spanish sports daily AS, when asked who was the top contender for the 2014 Vuelta, Horner replied “Chris Froome, because of the way he climbs and the way he time trials and also Quintana. Nairo surprised me in the Tour in 2013 and in the Giro in 2014. He’s an amazing climber.
“The battle between these two riders and the rest of the field should be brilliant. The Vuelta’s always a great race.”
His season with Lampre has been a tough one: he suffered a major accident training this spring and was forced to skip the Giro d’Italia but returned to racing at the Tour de France, finishing 17th. He then claimed second in the Tour of Utah, just as he did in August 2013, as he built up for the Vuelta.
“I’m in good form, “ he told AS, “I’m proud to be defending my Vuelta title, to battle for it as strongly as possible. I love this race, it was the biggest win of my career. The key is to stay healthy for all three weeks.”
The oldest-ever winner of a Grand Tour at 41 years and 327 days, Horner says his victory was “a very hard one to take. I had to respond to many attacks, mainly from [Vincenzo] Nibali. It must have looked good to the public, but it wore us out.”
Horner says he has no idea how long he will be racing for, “because up to now, I feel great. Whilst my body and mind tell me I can continue, I will.”