Some thoughts on Chris Horner

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I’ve known and raced against Chris Horner a long time. He never ceases to amaze me. He did it yesterday at the ToC and also here racing in the US, when he rode for Webcor. It was truely amazing how much better he made those guys on his team, thus enabling them to work for him more. That is one of the best things about him, he makes the riders around him better bike racers.

Chris Horner usually puts his money where his mouth is. Back in 2004, when Jason MacCarntney won the Olympic Trials in Redlands, Chris got a lot of shit from people when he was quoted as saying that he was extremely disappointed that he didn’t win the race and make the Olympic team. This was the only way that he was going to be picked. This was also the only time I’ve ever written anything to Velonews. They printed my opinion that completely backed up Horner’s, non modest, views. Nearly every single rider in the race, minus me, which didn’t count, was riding against Horner. He was sick, on antibiotics and still nearly smeared everyone on a super hard course on a super hard day. He deserved to be disappointed. He was the best guy there, by miles.

What I like best about Chris is that he is a smart guy, in the sport of cycling and he loves to race bikes. I nearly had the pleasure of racing with him on a National Trek Cyclo-X Team a couple years back, but he had to go and break his collarbone in Elk Grove and that put an end to his ‘cross season that year. It is amazing, here is a guy that is racing the Tour de France, finishing top ten, and is still racing Jingle Cross Rock in Iowa in November. That is completely opposite of professional bike racers nowadays. They are racing less and less.

Chris is a super friendly guy. The problem he’s had his whole career is that a lot of what he says comes off as a bit arrogant. And he’s not arrogant in the least. He just says it like he sees it. Take the quotes below after he way yesterday’s stage-

“I think in my career I have been under appreciated,” Horner said. “When I arrived here at the Tour of California, I found it quite insulting to not be invited to the press conference. I think the press should have known, I have won the Basque Country and I was second at the Basque Country. I’ve been fourth here at the Tour of California before and I found it insulting that I wasn’t invited to the press conference.”

“Throughout 16 years of professional bike racing, I’ve been underrated many, many times,” he added. “I’ve done a lot of domestique work and sometimes I see where the press can lose me in the lime light. When you have teammates like Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, you can’t have five RadioShack or Astana riders up here. At the same time it is easy to see that my form has been with the best of the best in the world and with the exception of Alberto Contador, I don’t think there is anyone that can drop me.”

A few of those statements sound a bit arrogant and whiny. But, that isn’t the case. I agree with everything he said. He has done a ton of domestique work throughout his career. That is how he got his foot in the door to return to the European peleton and that is mainly what he has been getting paid for to do the last few years. But, it seems he’s gotten the green light to race for himself some now, and he’s making the best of it.

I think Chris Horner is going to win the ToC. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think he is going to finish on the podium in the Tour this year. And not on the bottom step.

Here’s a link to Chris’s website and a blow by blow account of yesterday’s ToC stage.


Chris, Todd Wells and me at Jingle Cross a couple years back.


Here’s what Chris does when he’s done working for Levi at “local” stage races like Cascade. Here’s the complete photo series. Thanks for reminding me Spencer.


Chris giving Mari Holden a hand on the Andreas Knickman Benefit ride we did last fall.

He always seems upbeat.

Maybe one of these yellow shirts for Chris this year?

17 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Chris Horner

  1. Matt

    Chris Horner is such a badass….backs it up, calls it straight and races smart. Yesterday was the CX double BTW…Gadret and Horner…good day to be a crosser! Steve…thanks for keeping some old school sensibility in the press…more riders would do well to emulate the paths of guys like you and Horner…race everything!

  2. DavidR

    You’re right, Steve, Chris Horner is a super-friendly guy. I talked to him a little bit at Jingle Cross last fall and he was v. cool (you were, too). And, no, Horner sure hasn’t gotten the cred he deserves, esp. domestically where he’s kicked ass for so long. But real cycling fans know him and appreciate him as a champion. ToC win? Yeah, I can see that. TdF podium? IDK, but it would sure be awesome. Get some, Chris!

  3. Rich R

    Chris maybe under appreciated by the media but not by those of us who ride. He deserves to win this.

  4. JonM

    That attack he through down yesterday was beyond impressive and was of the order of when Armstrong was in his prime and the current state of Contador. Actually, to toss a minute on the chaps that followed him up a relatively short climb is beyond amazing… and the fact he was rated a ZERO on the recently leaked UCI doping suspicions list should build his fan base across the entire spectrum of cycling. I believe him to be the greatest truly natural GC rider in the whole of the pro peloton. He has absolutely no suspicions about him and has never appeared to have shady relationships with crafty MD’s. The only training insight that we have on Chris is that he likes to eat donuts and In N Out and will find every reason to saddle up and spend time on the bike. He emulates what cycling is truly about, from the joy of the weekend enthusiast all the way through to the seasoned professional. Mr. Horner, may your VeloTribe increase!!!

  5. old and slow

    The way that Chris clawed back up to Valverde last year in the second last stage at Pays Vasco would tend to support his own opinion of how many of the top riders out there are capable of dropping him when he’s on form. If that stage is still in the archives at Universal Sports you should go back and look at one of the really exceptional pieces of one on one road racing in 2010.

    It reminded me of Roche coming back up to Pedro Delgado on the Alpe back in the day, to a lesser degree of course. But then again nobody was wheeling in a gurney cart for Horner at the end either. At that level with the whole race on the line riders simply don’t get undropped like that very frequently.

    Plus the guy seriously came up the hard way. There are very very few top professional riders who weren’t already dominant, at least locally, as Juniors.

  6. Jay

    Yep Steve, you’re so right about Chris being a cool guy. I was in Italy working back in 2008 the week before Tour of Lombardy. I was able to go to the start in Varese. I saw Chris in his Astana kit ride by and yelled out if I could get a picture with him. He actually turned around and rode up to me. I snapped a few pics and we chatted about about he was feeling and such. I told him I had an old Nutri-fig team jersey like the team he used to race for and he just laughed. The fact that he stopped to speak to guy from out of the blue really made an impression.

  7. old and slow

    His blog about the TDF stage last year where post crash Lance was trying to secure the stage win and how Horner dropped back to the third group voluntarily and then ended up back with the leaders pretty much through happenstance halfway down the descent was pretty epic too. All this after having gotten Lance off the front in the first 30Ks.

    There was some remark in there like, “I was using every climbing trick I knew, drafting the biggest guy, taking the longest path through the switchbacks and still just barely holding on.”

    Here I thought that only us pack fodder knew about that kind of stuff?

  8. MarkT

    Seeing Chris Horner on that same Andreas Knickman Benefit ride and overhearing a few conversations Chris had with different people along the way was enough to convince anyone that Mr. Horner is truly a gentleman. That, along with his performances throughout the years makes him a terrific sportsman as well.

  9. davidh

    I love how Horner keeps his connections to the grass roots. And his racing insights seem to be spot on – he will be a great director someday.

    Jonathan Vaughters wrote about him in Cycle Sport column several years ago. The gist (if I remember correctly) was that Horner’s talent was on par with Armstrong’s but Horner never got the concierge-level support (on and off the bike) that Armstrong seemed to acquire for himself. Horner’s had to build his career in a much more DIY manner. It’s great to see it paying off for him.

  10. Bret Sehorn

    I saw him win the 89′er Stage Race in 1995 or so. Riding for Nutra-Fig. Beat all the Team Saturn including Norm Alvis. Later that year, or the next he won the long breakaway stage in Tour du Pont. Watch the film clip from that interview and you’ll see the same attitude and demeanor he has today.

  11. Pingback: Tilford on Horner « cyclingspin

  12. Patrick

    The fact that Chris is simply honestly (and without false modesty) taking account of his abilities reminds me of my friend, and former co-worker, Chris. One of our co-workers once said of him, “He always acted like such a know-it-all, as thought he knew the answer to everything!” I then had to explain that Chris did in fact know the answer to everything, as he is one of the brightest people I’ve ever met…damn strong bike racer, too.

    I love your blog since you always bring the reality to the masses with your blog posts!

  13. Brian Gristick

    Years back I won an auction bundle on eBay. It included knee warmers, arm warmers, head bands, TT overshoes, etc. Some plain and some FDJ, Mercury etc. When they arrived I noticed, when I turned them inside out, every one was marked C.Horner. Very cool. I replied to the seller and he confirmed. Still got’em Chris. Congrats on the ATofC ass woop’n…enjoyed watching.

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