Chris Horner has revealed he could have been killed in the recent training accident that left him with a punctured lung, four fractured ribs and a series of scars on his head and body.
Horner was apparently hit by a Range Rover in a dark tunnel near Lecco in northern Italy while training on Friday. The driver, a 70-year-old from Milan, has been identified thanks to the mirror found at the accident and video evidence. The driver didn't stop to help Horner, claiming he didn’t realise he had hit the American.
Horner has told Gazzetta dello Sport that he wants to believe the driver but fortunately doesn't remember the details of what happened.
"I believe him, I want to believe him. It was just a moment of bad luck," he said after leaving the Lecco hospital with his wife Megan on Wednesday afternoon.
"I was training and went into a dark, narrow tunnel. But I don’t remember anything about the crash, I only remember when I came around, I was at the other end of the tunnel."
"If another car or a truck had gone through the tunnel when I crashed, I'd be dead. I was lucky. In a moment of bad luck, I was very lucky."
No Giro d'Italia
Horner confirmed there is no chance for him to recover in time to ride the Giro d'Italia. He now hopes to ride the Tour de France with fellow Lampre-Merida team leader Rui Costa and focus on defending his victory at the 2013 Vuelta a Espana.
"I'll be off the bike for a couple of weeks, then I'll ride the rollers and then I'll get back on the road. I won’t ride the Giro but perhaps I'll ride the Tour and then the Vuelta, to defend my title. But we've still got to decide everything."
"It's a real pity to miss the Giro d'Italia because I was starting to feel good and feel on form. I'd been studying the climbs and was going to ride the Giro del Trentino, which would have made me ready for the Giro."
Despite this latest accident and set back, Horner is determined to continue racing beyond 2014, beyond his 43rd birthday in October.
"Age is just a concept. 42 or almost 43 can mean you're old or mean you're still young. It's up to you, how you feel, your motivation, your dreams and desires. Look at Jens Voigt. He's full of strength, energy and enthusiasm and he's a month older than me."
"The important thing is keep riding and be up there with the best. If you can do it, your age is only a detail, a statistic. I don’t know what I'll do when I stop racing. I really want to race for another two or three years."