Following a tenth place in the Tour de France, Chris Horner (RadioShack) returned home to the USA to join the American peloton at the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove from July 30-August 1 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
The Bend, Oregon native was attracted by the lucrative purse offered at the three-stage event but admits that the three-week grand Tour may have left his legs slightly lacking.
“I’ve been doing this race since it first started so I think this is the fifth year,” Horner said. “Mayor Craig Johnson does a really good job of getting me over here and taking care of me. Also, the $150,000 prize list is a good incentive. It is a pretty easy race to get to by flying straight into Chicago and then all the races are in one location so there are no transfers.”
This year’s race will offer a $118,000 prize purse, reduced from previous years, and has attracted nearly every top American Continental team. It is also an important place on the National Racing Calendar that ranks the riders and teams on a national level.
“This is the biggest prize money in the US and it is amazing that they don’t get everybody coming to it,” Horner said. “Last year, all the biggest US teams are here and this year I think there are about 90 percent of them racing.”
Horner flew straight to Chicago following the conclusion of the Tour de France last Sunday on the Champs-Elysées in Paris where was the top placed American rider. He acknowledged that he is unsure of how he will perform at the Tour of Elk Grove following a three-week grand Tour and little time to recover between.
“It was nice coming back and a lot of people have appreciated the top ten ride and have been congratulating me and stuff,” Horner said. “Certainly, you are recognized a little bit more when you just come back from the Tour. But, it’s been one week since the Tour and I am tired. This is the first weekend since the Tour finished last Sunday and of course flying back home to Chicago from Paris meant there was not much rest. I basically had three rest days before I started racing.”
Horner placed eighth in the seven-kilometre time trial with a time of 8:36, four seconds slower than stage winner and currant race leader Peter Latham (Bissell). There are two stages to go: the 155km stage two AXA Equitable Circuit Race on Saturday and the Gullo International Pro Men 115 km Criterium held on Sunday, August 1.
“I don’t know, we will have to see how I can do here,” Horner said. “I think I can do really well at Elk Grove but coming from the Tour and depending on if I haven’t recovered in the short amount of time since the Tour, I could race horrible here. But if I’ve had just enough rest then maybe my form with be good from the Tour."
Last year, Horner earned a 5th place in the overall classification after starting the race with a 6th place in the opening prologue. He went on to place 10th in the circuit race and 12th in the closing criterium.