The seemingly ageless Chris Horner will continue his 'comeback' to racing at the upcoming Vuelta a Colombia, where the 46-year-old former winner of the Vuelta a Espana will compete with Illuminate, a US-registered Continental team.
Horner, who quit racing following the 2016 season and then sat out all of 2017 while trying to diagnose a lingering bronchial infection, returned to racing in June at the US Pro championships, where he ended up abandoning along with most of the peloton.
Following the US Pro race, Horner joined Illuminate at Romania's 2.1 Sibiu Cycling Tour in July, finishing 25th overall.
Horner scored the biggest win of his career at the 2013 Vuelta a Espana, where the then-41-year-old took two stages and the overall victory ahead of Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde. Horner moved from RadioShack to Lampre the following season but was kept out of the Vuelta by his team because of low cortisol levels.
In 2015 he signed with Illuminate precursor Airgas-Safeway and raced on the US domestic circuit, but the bronchial infection he picked up in the 2014 Tour de France continued to hamper his performances. Horner signed with Lupus Racing in 2016 and raced one season for the US Continental team before it folded at the end of the season.
Throughout 2017, Horner worked with multiple doctors to diagnose his bronchial problems, eventually concluding it was the byproduct of acid reflux that allowed fluids to flow into his lungs and cause the infection.
Doctors prescribed a medication to minimise the acid reflux, allowing Horner to train longer and harder, and there's also a surgical option that he can consider in the future. For now, he's told Cyclingnews he's just happy to be out of the house and enjoying his first love: racing bikes.
The Vuelta a Colombia, which runs from August 5-19, is no longer a UCI race, but the altitude and ascents over the 15 days make it a difficult test for any team or rider. It will be Horner's biggest test since his return to racing.
The rest of the Illuminate roster includes Colombians Félix Barón and Camilo Castiblanco, Estonian Martin Laas, Swiss Simon Pellaud and American Nathan King.