At more than six minutes down in the general classification, Lupus Racing’s Chris Horner has a long road ahead if he wants to climb into the top 10 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah during this weekend’s final two stages.
Horner is currentl in 22nd, 6:07down on overall leader Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly-Maxxis). In the past three years he’s finished second twice in 2013 and 2014 and fifth last year. The 44-year-old told Cyclingnews after Friday’s stage to Bountiful that how far he can climb up the GC ladder over the next two stages is simply a roll of the dice.
“It’s whatever the lungs are doing,” he said.
For the past two seasons, Horner has been suffering on and off from bronchial issues that have hampered his abilities and his results.
“Like today, all of the sudden they were pretty decent. And so we’re doing 460 watts up the climb, my size, bigger guys of course are probably 550-600, but my size. So they were breathing pretty good. They weren’t shutting down. So maybe, there is some luck, who knows. But it’s a roll of the dice, I can’t even control it.”
In this week’s only other major climbing stage so far, the stage 3 ascent over Mt. Nebo, Horner finished 28th. He was 25th Friday in Bountiful on a course that included a category 2 climb and three category 3s, the last two of which came on the difficult and technical finishing circuits.
“That was a hard stage,” he said. “You saw Lachlan Mortan put in a little dig there on the last time up the climb with about 200 meters to go. Cannondale was doing a good job of controlling everything. With a little bit of help; I think Rally was, too, the first time.
“But you saw how fast it was. It was a tailwind up the climb. So whatever the first guys were doing, you maybe take 10-15 watts off that and that’s what everyone is doing. The wind is blowing big time, so the field just blew up. I think it was harder than last year, for sure.”
Asked how he’s been climbing when the lungs are open and the breathing is good, Horner didn’t hesitate.
“On the limit,” he said. “So, maybe I get some luck and it goes a little bit better. But for the moment, I just gotta follow, follow, follow and hope there is some tactics involved with somebody that doesn’t want to chase me. I’m down on time, they are all looking at each other and maybe the lungs are the best they’ve been this year. That’s all I can do. Cross the fingers.”
Although Horner may just be targeting a possible stage win over the next couple of days, he tapped current race leader Lachlan Morton as the hands-down favourite for the overall.
“Lachlan is fabulous,” he said. “I don’t know how much they showed on TV, but he’s at the back of our group starting to climb, he’s hiding out because of course his teammates have been on the front all day. He’s got a great team, but they are all wrecked of course from a circuit like this. He’s hiding out hiding out and he can pass everybody as they’re getting dropped, so you know he’s good.”