A protected rider in the nine-strong USA team in today’s world championships veteran Chris Horner is certainly not lacking in experience when it comes to the road race. Indeed, Horner, 40, was part of the US team way back in 1998 when the World’s was last held at Valkenberg and with countless Amstel Golds under his belt, Horner knows the course like the back of his hand - and he warns it’s constantly undulating, technical nature makes it very hard to predict.
“On a course like this, I’d expect a break to go maybe 75 or 60 kilometres from the finish,” Horner told Cyclingnews as he prepared for the start in Maastricht.
“I’ve done this race before, of course in 1998, when it was rainier although not colder - although the rain made it feel colder than it is today - and I expect that the winning move will go before the last time up the Cauberg.”
Back in 1998, Horner worked for Lance Armstrong, who took fourth following his fourth place in the Vuelta that autumn. “It was his big comeback, he did the Vuelta and then rode a fantastic race here. It was when we first knew that Lance was back to winning again.”
Fast forward 14 years and now it’s Horner who’s one of the protected riders in the US team. “I’ve just got to see if the legs are good. I came off of a little break after Colorado [where he finished 13th - Ed.] and I’ve had three weeks training since the break, and that’s usually what I need to come really good again. Maybe it’ll be later in the week or hopefully it’ll be today.”
“I’m well-rested after Colorado, I’ve been at altitude for a solid six weeks and now I’m coming down to sea level. I‘m familiar with this course, and I love being in Amstel [country] I did the Worlds in 1998 and my first Amstel in 1997. But the fans are very intelligent, enthusiastic and I expect numerous so it’s going to be a great day.”
As for where important moves could go, Horner says “The whole course is really historic. It is one where you have to be alert and on your toes the whole time, there’s nowhere to ‘take a nap’ or ease back. You’re never bored and the time is going to pass really fast. It’s 250 kilometres full on.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.