By Gregor Brown
Chris Horner will be one of the core supporters for fellow American Lance Armstrong in his next season at Team Astana. Despite past differences of opinion, the Oregon native is honoured to ride in the company of a seven-time Tour de France winner.
"The guy has been the Tour de France champion and I have been trying to get on his team for years. I don't have any problems working for him," said Horner to Cyclingnews.
The two and the rest of their Astana teammates are on the Spanish island of Tenerife for a team training camp. The last major meeting between the two was when they were racing for different teams at the 2005 Tour de France. Armstrong retired at the end of that race, but he is making a comeback for the 2009 season with his old team manager Johan Bruyneel. Horner joined the team at the beginning of this year.
Besides a daring escape with Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel in the 2005 Tour's stage 13, Armstrong might remember Horner from some of his remarks regarding the end of Team Discovery Channel. Horner insisted that he was simply expressing a difference of opinion.
"I don't have any problems working for him, having conflicts with riders throughout your career is completely normal. Nothing that Lance and I have had conflicts over has been anything major."
Horner explained that the team is splitting into different groups every day during the training camp in Spain. Tuesday Alberto Contador and Armstrong were in different groups, but yesterday they were training together. Horner has had his time with both the Tour winners.
His programme will follow closely to that of Armstrong. "It will probably be Tour Down Under, [Tour of] California, Paris-Nice, Giro [d'Italia]..." he said of his early races.
Thursday is the official presentation of the 2009 Astana team. With Levi Leipheimer, the team boosts three American riders in its roster.