Unbelievable Chris Horner

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I’ve been sort of avoiding commenting on Chris Horner and his situation since……well since, I guess he started racing bikes. I’m a Chris Horner fan. I admit. I like the guy. But, he is most likely going to suffer the fate of all the others that have been exposed to be on the dark side recently and have to pay a price.

Chris, historically, hadn’t done too much to draw any individual attention to himself. That obviously changed when he spanked everyone at the Tour of Spain this year. I wrote a webpost a couple months ago, Something is Screwy with Chris Horner, wondering why he would call his shot and say he was planning on winning a Grand Tour when he had never finished on the podium before. I pretty much toned down that post, which I’m probably going to do here, somewhat.

But, the circumstances have changed since then and Chris’ situation is in the spotlight. A couple days ago, the New York Times did a piece titled, Anti-Doping Agency Exposed Armstrong, but What About Others? The article goes through a little of the background of the USADA decision, but the meat of the story is pretty much about Chris Horner and his situation.

It isn’t like it hasn’t been in the news before, but when the New York Times makes serious implications, then everyone should take notice. I’m sure that they contacted Chris to get his side of the story, which they didn’t include, so I surmise he didn’t respond. I know that you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but in this day and age of cycling doping scandals, it doesn’t always work that way.

Cyclingnews did a story back in September titled, Is Chris Horner a redacted name in USADA’s Reasoned Decision? They contacted him and asked him pretty much outright if he is the redacted named rider #15 in the USADA report. Chris doesn’t answer the question and cuts the interview short. This isn’t a good sign for the future of Chris. There are forums all over the internet that address this. (Just type “Rider 15” into a Google search.) If someone calls me up and asks me if I’m a redacted name on the USADA report, I’m going to say, Hell No! That wasn’t Chris’ answer. Obviously, it is clear that Trek was up to speed with what was going on, so they failed to “offer” Chris a contract.

This makes me go back and think about all the times that Chris has destroyed me, and the rest of the field, over the last 15 years. I’ve ridden 100’s of races with the guy. Trying to put personal bias aside, he’d been doing it a long time domestically before he finally made the successful leap to Europe.

At the 2003 Redlands Classic, Chris, Tom Danielson and Nathan O’Neill, on the final day, the Sunset Loop, rode away, virtually from the gun and nearly lapped the field on a 6+ mile course. Three Saturn riders killing the whole rest of the field. It was a joke. I eventually just quit the race after trying to help Vaughters and his guys chase for a few laps, only to be losing nearly a minute a lap going full tilt. And we know what eventually happened to Tom and Nathan, eventually turning up positive or eventually having to confess. I have no idea why I would be so naïve to think that Chris wouldn’t be in the same class.

Later on in 2003, during the Tour of Georgia, Chris had the Saturn team setting tempo up a climb. Everyone was climbing hard when Chris pulled over to the side of the road, relieved himself, and casually rode back up to his slot behind his team. I heard that story from a few different guys. It totally destroyed the morale of nearly everyone in the field. Chris won this race overall.

Like I’ve said, more than once, I think Chris Horner is a good guy. I’ve watched him humble himself many times. He rode Cyclocross Nationals two years in a row in Providence. Both years, I had the “pleasure” to watch him hit the ground nearly harder than anytime I’ve ever fallen in a cross race. I obviously didn’t see him again during either of those races. But, he got up and finished both races. Back in the 30’s, but he didn’t quit. He just went about his business. He is really a blue-collar bike racer.

In the New York Times article, there is a quote from Matt DeCanio, saying Chris told him, “‘If everybody’s doing it, it ain’t cheating.’” That might have been the way of the past, but this is the present and we view it different now.

I view it different now. My personal view is if you are deemed to be positive once in your career, then all your previous results are valueless and should be ignored. That is hard for me to do here, because of my history with Chris, but there comes a time when enough is enough. And this is enough. Sorry Chris, your career has been unbelievable. But, not in the incredible definition, but the not able to believe, unlikely to be true, definition.

I kind of respect the guy, taking the big risk and winning the Tour of Spain, knowing the card house was collapsing around him. He could have stayed under the radar for a bit longer and just went about his business. You know the saying, Go Big or go Home. He went big, but in my opinion, it is time for him to just go home.

Chris, Todd Wells and me at Jingle Cross a few years back. Maybe Chris can come by Jingle Cross again, next month, for a last hurrah. Only this time as a spectator.

51 thoughts on “Unbelievable Chris Horner

  1. Bill

    Love Horner. Great tactician. Regular dude. Loves the bike. Best interview out there.

    But yeah, 2003 Redlands ? Come on…that was ridiculous.
    How about 2004 San Fran dragging around the field on the final lap for teammate Charles Dionne (?!) who mysteriously made it over all the climbs and beats a pro tour field ?
    And not only Dionne, but a wake of modest riders who suddenly destroyed people under his tutelage and then disappeared after no longer riding with him.

    But here’s my problem…. if anyone was ever screwed by the system it was Horner ( left off Olympic teams, left off trade teams, generally shit on by the establishment). He was a guy who showed unbelievable promise and talent early on…Classic winning and Tour contending talent…and was left in the cold by everyone who, in retrospect, was doping and running doping programs….possibly with the blind eye of USA Cycling.

    I’m not making excuses for Horner, but it would be understandable at some point for a guy to cave into a rigged system just in order to stay alive. And if he did cooperate with the USADA investigation, then I do think that offers some vindication.

    Then again I can say all the same stuff about Tilford, who seems to have chosen a different path and suffered the slings and arrows for it.

    I’m sorta glad Horner got his Tour, but I’m looking forward to the eventual retirement off that entire generation of riders for the sake of the sport in general.

  2. Brian

    Glad to hear you take this standpoint on Horner! I have posted a few comments and get similar responses to those back when Lance was doping.

    What I find remarkable is how so many people don’t want to look at the facts:
    Never on a Grand Tour Podium
    On Multiple Teams directed by Johan Bruyneel
    Former teammates with quite a few names that have been busted for PEDs
    Putting out Higher VAMs then the previous doping era on certain climbs
    Little racing for the season
    Knee surgery w/i the past year
    Best results before the Vuelta were racing on RadioShack with Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer.

    Then when Cycling News calls him while he is driving he for starters answers his phone and begins to have a conversation then when they ask him a question he basically tells them he is driving a can’t talk. Odd behavior for someone to answer their phone in the car if they don’t think its safe to talk while driving? How about at least answering their questions later?

    Then more recently there is Robin Parisotto, an Anti-doping expert that is raising questions about his Bio Passport.

    “Never seen it on the team. Never heard about it. Never seen it,” Horner told VeloNews.

    Thanks for posting this past events and thoughts Steve! If people don’t raise concern then we get more of what we are trying to change!

  3. jpete

    I think something’s moving- Klodi didn’t get a re-up, Horner’s looking the same, and USADA set a date for Bruyneel’s trial in December. Storm’s a-brewing.

  4. Wielsucker (@Wielsucker)

    I like Horner but for him to keep doping after “The Fall” makes it hard to excuse. I understand how Andreau, Hincapie, VDV, Floyd & Tyler (the whole brat pack) all got to that point and why they did it. I don’t like or condone it but I can understand and forgive it for the most part. But how Horner can get back to business as usual is beyond me. I know he didn’t cash in like the rest and feels like he timed it all wrong but we can’t just keep looking away..

  5. Roberto

    If you accept Greg Lemond as being clean. Then you have to accept, that special, supremely gifted athletes, can actually exist. Chris showed amazing climbing talent, through his entire career. He was injured for a lot of his career, and not truly healthy, for even more of it. He rode for other people, when he was healthy. The Vuelta course this year, was perfectly suited to a guy like Chris. He had always excelled on super steep climbs. And everyone else in the Vuelta was tired. If you are going to believe in Greg Lemond, you have to believe what Chris Horner did is possible. If you don’t, you’re just another opinionated a##hole. You can’t have it both ways. If you want to hate, then just sign the article “I’m a pessimistic hater”. Steve, I know you don’t like dopers. But at some point, you have to stop expecting the worst in people.

  6. garth

    just like pro wrestling. fun to watch, I couldn’t jump off the top rope and take a hit like that. Obviously great athletes, but if you think they are clean, I have some beachfront property in Kansas City.

  7. Steve Tilford Post author

    Roberto-Sorry, can’t agree with you here. I witnessed things that Greg did when he was 15, 16, 17, 22……years old that Chris has never done.

    Chris has never been blatant. I’m using only circumstantial evidence here. Mainly his statements to the press the last couple years.

    If he’s not rider #15, then he needs to state that. Since he hasn’t, the assumption is that he is that very redacted rider. So far, no one named in the USADA report has been cleared. I know it is he said/she said, but these riders were testifying under oath, so I would hope they were telling the truth.

    I very much doubt the New York Times is going to report on something that they believe is “fishing”.

    I believe there are special athletes out there. I just don’t believe anymore that Chris Horner is/or ever was, one of those people.

  8. channel_zero

    But here’s my problem…. if anyone was ever screwed by the system it was Horner ( left off Olympic teams, left off trade teams, generally shit on by the establishment). He was a guy who showed unbelievable promise and talent early on…Classic winning and Tour contending talent…and was left in the cold by everyone who, in retrospect, was doping and running doping programs….possibly with the blind eye of USA Cycling.

    Thom Wiesel owns USAC. When it comes to doping his eyes are shut tight while he’s paying for the likes of Marti and Ferarri. Some guys waaaayyyy back in the day when Thom was running much lower budget domestic teams can describe trips to Thom’s doctors for health checks oh and some other things too.

    Otherwise, yes, Chris was never given any support because he wasn’t Lance. This goes way, way back to the Carmichael development days at USAC. USACDF plays favorites. Even if Lance is not in the picture, USAC has ignored their own selection criteria to choose favored riders on the road and mountain disciplines.

  9. john

    I wonder why you have come out with your “evidence” before any formal judgment is made. given your great following you are just dragging a few more bike racing fans down. Sure you are free to speak your mind – on your forum but really …

  10. Matt M

    Dang it…I want to believe! I want those miracle performances to be legit…I want the suffering to represent something special, not just the best use of illegal products. I want Horner to be clean because he’s always been cool, nice, whatever….because he spent 10 minutes just rapping with me at Cross Nats in Bend a few years back. I guess all that’s left is for LeMond to get busted…


  11. channel_zero

    The UCI has a history of hiding positives and ignoring suspicious profiles. Evidence suggests the worst thing to happen to Chris would be targeted testing.

    He’s “never tested positive” along with Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong.

  12. Matt

    Has LeMond commented on Horner’s Vuelta win? I’d be really interested to hear what Greg has to say about it.

  13. velomonkey

    False dichotomy. Everything this guy just said is BS. Cause, yea, Lemond won the tour at 41 after never even doing a top five.

    Cripes people. Get a clue.

  14. Bill K

    “‘If everybody’s doing it, it ain’t cheating.’”

    Didn’t “somebody else” say the same thing, in the last year.

    PS. I’ve lost all respect for LeMond. He’s turned into a real A-hole.

  15. joe

    Let get it out there Lemond DOPED!!!!!,they were not b12 shots,he holds one of the fastest ITT ever in the tour,still today even after the epo era has ended.Greg was clean ??but his 24k TT is still the fastest ever,against todays bikes,wheels and aero tested frames-TT specialist like fabian and martain-not a chance.Horner’s blood values are not out of normal,just not what they expected.Even Vaughters tweeted that they could be normal for him,given the amount of grand tours and racing he has done.What I find strange is how he climbs,really low cadence-into the 50-60rpm at times-it doesn’t seem to match the blood doping profiles basso,lance and froome

  16. webvan

    On the other hand how would he know whether he in fact “rider 15” or not, presumably only Levi and USADA know who that rider is. The question should be “did you ever confess to Levi Lepheimer using EPO to recover from an injury?”, that he could answer by “yes” or “no”.

  17. Willis Montgomery

    So happy I quit racing. Now, when I want to go fast, I just time myself going somewhere. If I go faster then before, great. Even better to use a bike to go somewhere and save some dough on car expenses. Who cares about all this stuff. It’s all such a joke. It makes no difference to me who uses what drugs to go faster. We can all be professional cyclists by using our bikes to save money. It’s a far better way to use good form anyway.

    Have a lot of fun!

  18. Berry Rice

    This is a great read. As a former road racer in the late 80’s and 90’s it was fairly obvious who had the “IT” when racing thru the ranks. I peaked at 19-20, but when I raced against Jeff Hall years earlier when he was 14-15 he displayed he had that “IT” factor locally. That kid was destroying the local MTB fields back when those races where huge….by minutes, also doing it on a ill fitting Bianchi bike 2 sizes too big for him. That’s when I realized I did not have that “IT” for racing at the cat 1-2 level…from just hanging in the field to actually racing in it. Like Lemond once said “If your good…you’ve always been good). Lemond would have won national senior titles at 15-16 had he not had Junior gear restrictions. Lemond is someone who lost a boat load of money, fans, and businesses for speaking out on doping (some call it whining). One would think if he did dope…he’s keep his big trap shut (Ala Big Mig Indurain) and rake all the dough in from Trek and sponsors…for Christ sake he did Taco Bell commercials for money…so why jeopardize it by speaking out. Chris Horner was a good local racer…but did not have that “IT” that early on…very hard to believe.

    I’m not sure if Joe or Roberto have ever raced even at a semi pro level but if they did …you would come at the same conclusion as Steve. He has been around these elite ranks for some time and from all I’ve read from him has been pretty accurate and lines right up from what I’ve experienced (albeit not at his level ). I hope Miguel Induarain comes clean at some point too.

  19. Andre

    I think you’re on to something here. Maybe you need just a bit more meat in your argument though…. Perhaps look into Greg’s results when he won the Tour d’l Avenir by 10 minutes over Robert Millar in his second year as a professional. Perhaps you could dig up something interesting to show he was a doper at that age since he continued to dominate in the years to follow (i.e, he won Dauphine, Worlds and the Super Prestige Trophy in ’83, 3rd in his first TdF when he was sick, 2nd the next year after being told to hold back, etc.).

    But wait, I actually think you need to go further back because there wasn’t a spike in 82 either because he was already winning big as a Junior (first Junior World Champion in USA history) and the year before he beat the Russians in the Coors Classic. Hmm… well, perhaps you can find out why he was crushing one of America’s best, John Howard, when he was 16 years old. Hmm… I think he’s spike in performance came when he starting pedaling his bicycle at 15. Can you check to see if he had EPO when he was in high school? That would be the only way to explain his dominance from 1976 through 1990. It would also explain his fall, since he stopped performing well once EPO became rampant amongst the peleton.

    You’re on to something, keep up the fight to expose him!


    Nothing would surprise me in the world of sports (including cycling) but I sort’a like to make sure I have enough evidence before ‘convicting’ someone of doping or other infractions in public. I don’t see it as being naive; just trying to be fair. And I can appreciate that some are going to have different standards for what makes for good reading (or ‘journalism’). That said, it wouldn’t come as a big shock if dirt did come out regarding Horner sometime in the future – we’ve come to expect that in cycling, unfortunately – but until I have more reliable and credible material, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

  21. Steve Tilford Post author

    Rob-Maybe you can explain why he refuses to answer the question if his name is one redacted on the USADA report? I can’t see a downside to answering that question if the answer is no. This refusal is condemning on its own. That, the other side issues, and personal observations made me come to the above conclusion.

  22. mark

    The incentive to dope is still there. Outside of a handful of European countries, doping in sport is not illegal. You get kicked out of the sport by the sanctioning body and that is only temporary for most. Your reputation gets tarnished and your racing career might suffer (some riders seem immune to this) but you’ll never go to jail for it. Guys like Barry Bonds lied under oath and went to jail for that. Lance may just end up in jail some day but it won’t be because he doped his way to 7 TdF wins. Guys like Levi just move on to things like putting on crazy-expensive Gran Fondo events. A few people have commented about LeMond. Greg spoke out about doping and Lance in particular at a time when he knew it was committing bike industry suicide. And that is exactly what happened to him, so based on that, I think he is genuine. Not to mention that there isn’t even a single story, rumor, other race saying something, nothing about Greg. Rumors of Lance were already floating around when he was a junior rider at Olympic Training Center in Co Springs. Google search “Chris Carmichael Greg Strock doping case”.

  23. Mac

    Lemond always starts or relaunches a new Business adventure every time doping allegations come out. $$$$$

  24. timmer

    what ever happened to Dylan Casey?.. tt specialist climbing up the ranks only to retire when the hardest of hard core doping was going mainstream.. I bet he has some good insight as it seems he conceded to the eminent future of the sport; doping.

  25. Roberto

    Berry, I raced Pro in Europe. Though if you ask most of my teammates, I had semi-pro talent. I knew Greg as a junior, Lance as a kid, and I also know Chris. Nobody with a brain, will say Greg didn’t have the “it” that you’re talking about. Lance had “it” too. And when Chris climbed, he had loads of “it”. Winning Junior Worlds, before the invention of EPO, isn’t proof of anything, except that Greg had a ton of talent. We all knew that already. It’s even possible he won his 1st Tour clean. We will never know what Lance would have done, if doping hadn’t escalated to the level it did. But I think he would have won at least a couple of Tours. But to put Chris Horner’s win, to this level of scrutiny, is just stupidity. The race was perfectly suited to his strengths, and 41 is no longer old. All the main challengers in the race, had tired legs, from an entire season of racing. He didn’t. What people are claiming is evidence, isn’t evidence of anything. It’s just their jaded opinions, and nothing more. Let’s not forget, this was just one race. As far as Lemond. I was in Europe at the time, and I think he cheated to win his 2nd and 3rd Tour. EPO use was rampant at the time. And it’s not reasonable to believe, he was handily beating the dopers, while racing clean. And to the guy who claimed Greg’s performances dropped, when everybody started using EPO, you’re a bit misinformed. Greg’s results dropped, because of the lead pellets left in his body, after he got shot. The toxicity was making him sick, and unable to ride hard.

  26. Berry Rice

    I had the pleasure of checking out that one way 1989 15.22 mi TT. It really is slightly downhill (expect for maybe the last 3k up to the Champs Elysees where it goes slight up net elevation loss (-75-100meters). There was also a moderate tailwind (12-15mph) . Laurent Fignon was not nearly the time trialer Lemond was and still pulled an an average of 33.3 mph with no aerobars and aero helmet and a long pony tail fluttering in the wind. A freak of genetics doesn’t hurt either (Vo2 Max 92.5 is still the top 2-3 highest of any cyclist recorded ever).
    On a side note…I hate to break it to the many bike techies pals out there (including myself), but some of the most AERO bikes to this date were made in the late 80’s and 90s all due to the unsafe extreme body positions they put the rider in (think Pinnarello Pegasus 24inch front wheel, Egg and Superman postions Obree, Giro 2 foot long aero helmet, seat fairings, etc). Technology was going crazy (I dont think so) and the UCI put the kibosh on almost all of it except the aero bars. I loved watching the opening TT of the Tour de France in the 90’s to see all the ding dong aero tech stuff that the bike manufacturers would put out…I’d love to get me hands on a pair of Scott Extreme TT bars or the Scott Super Drop in’s with bar stabilizing struts attached to the fork.

  27. Berry Rice

    As a semi pro, you probably know roughly 10% of the guys in the field usually won 90% of the races. And racing at that level you knew pretty much almost all the guys abilities in your field from racing against them dozens of times over many years as I did…usually no surprises who won or did well in races. But all a sudden Jon Does that never remotely had a chance in winning we now in the mix for the win and winning flat out….from years of racing against these Jon Does …that’s real suspect. No training, bike tech, nutrition could make that much of a massive leap in performance.
    Lemond cited the whole lead pellets getting him in the end, but the real reason why he quit earlier was when he started seeing boat loads Jon Does hanging on on mountain climbs and posting some tt times that where real suspect (1991-92)…all the while he didn’t really see a change in he’s wattage stats using his huge pink SRM. EPO was developed 1988 then release to small trial groups in late 89… but it really didn’t get into cycling until 90-91. I believe EPO is the biggest game changing drug in endurance sports by a huge long shot.
    I like Chris Horner a lot but to say he said he’s never seen it or heard of doping while on RS is unbelievable and not be apart of any of it is also subject to scrutiny…especially after his grand our win.

  28. Eric

    Sorry Steve, but some of your info is wrong. Specifically about Chris’s younger years. I used to ride with him in San Diego during the late eighties and he was freaking incredible on the bike. I was even in his first race ( juniors USD crit). On training rides he would drop us ( many cat 1’s and 2’s ) for minutes even on short five mile climbs. Then, a couple years later he beat Armstrong and the rest of the pro field at another hilly USD crit. He couldn’t really TT that well, but he was similar to Lemond on the climbs from an early age.

  29. Erik Long

    Steve, Biskup has always spoken highly of you, but this post disappoints me to no end.

    Chris Horner trains his ass off. He’s a big believer in big training days, and lot’s of ’em. I haven’t known too many riders at any level who put in 30-hour weeks as often as he does. In recent years, Megan convinced him to clean up his diet – I used to watch him eat a ham & cheese sandwich on white bread mid-way through a 5-hour jaunt, followed by little debbie snack cakes, but no more. He’s leaner for it. I’ve never seen him as lean as he is now.

    It’s hard to imagine that anybody could look at Horner’s increasingly impressive performances over the past 4-5 years and not notice how much higher he’s been finishing since the Biological Passport was put in place. The guy couldn’t crack the top 30 at the Tour until after that program took effect. The more the big names were getting popped, the higher he could place.

    Horner could not hold a job in Europe until after Arstrong’s retirement. He never once worked for Johan until after Lance folded the Discovery team – THAT’s NOT A COINCIDENCE. Horner was held down to the domestic level by Armstrong himself, when by all rights and logic he should have been able to find a place on the premier American team because he was that good.

    That’s why he was beating the sh*t out of you and everyone else here in the states. He was (is) better.

    As for your assessment of the Sunset Loop performance, three strong riders pulling a team time trial for a distance shorter than Horner’s average training ride is not an indication of dope use. Yeah, Horner, Danielson, and O’niel rode away from the field one day at the ’03 Redlands, but what bunch of morons lets the three strongest riders from ANY team get a gap? Prime Alliance and Health Net dropped the ball on that one. That was a piss-poor example and that’s not what doping looks like.

    Ivan Stevic at the 2005 Sea Otter Classic is what doping looks like. The man crossed a 6-minute gap on a break containing 4 Health Net riders all by his lonesome. That’s drug use. Nobody pointed fingers at any of the Health Net guys for virtually the same scenario as Saturn a couple years prior.

    And the Vuelta. Leaving out the fact that the Vuelta ain’t the Tour . . . . This year’s Vuelta was perfect for Horner. Nibali was battle-weary from a hard season, as was everyone else. Half the stages finished uphill and he’s a climber on top of his game these past 4 years. The ITT was short, and that would minimize his weak spot. Spain is the one part of the world where Horner has been able to shine in the past – if he was ever going to win a Grand Tour, it was going to be that one.

    And even though every rider in the field was more-than-arguably not at their best, Horner only managed to win by a few seconds. Watch those stages again. Horner had to pull every trick he could out of the tactical bag. Watch for footage of Horner when he spends any more than 5 seconds out of the draft, you won’t find much.

    Horner was just very Lucky and Very smart. All the dope in the world can’t give you those things.

  30. Steve Tilford Post author

    Erik Long – I hope I’m wrong about Chris. But, very much doubt I am or I obviously wouldn’t have posted this. You are wrong about Redlands. O’Neil and Danielson have already served their timeouts for drug usage. Were you in the race? If so, you know what speed we climbed up to the top of the course the first time. No one “let” those three ride away.

    I wrote in my post that Chris not answering the question about being the redacted rider #15 was pretty incriminating.

    How about this-I obviously know Chris. And Megan. Let’s turn the tables. How about on Chris’ website he writes that he believes that I have raced using drugs. And around 17,000 people that are seriously involved in the sport read it. (That’s about how many have read this post.) And dozens of people leave comments about the post. I would be there in a second saying, “Hey Chris, You full of shit. 100% WRONG. I have never used drugs to race bikes. Retract it.”

    I haven’t seen that comment here. I would very much have to assume they have both seen the post.

    So, it is what it is. I’m sticking with what I wrote. Sorry if it disappoints you.

  31. Erik Long

    Fair enough, I guess. I hope it comes across that I meant nothing personal. It’s just kind of difficult to see a friend judged so harshly in public without any real evidence that he’s done anything wrong. And I’m aware of O’neil and Danielson’s sanctions. Read that results sheet and it’s like a who’s who of USADA positives.

    Still, I wonder if you’d have written the same thing if he’d only won a single stage and barely made the podium? That’s the Horner we tend to expect.

    All I see is a guy who had the majority of his potential lifetime earnings absorbed by the Armstrong shadow, a guy who was held away from the U.S. Olympic team at least 3 times I can think of, who was driven into financial rubble by John Wordin, and to top it off, he’s a guy who has been F*cked six ways from Sunday. Somehow, he’s always been nothing but good to the people around him throughout all of it.

    Now, he finally has the opportunity for the win of his career and he eeks out the biggest victory of his life. No positives. No actual evidence that he’s done anything wrong, apart from a thin reference to an ambiguously named entity of the number 15.

    I think he was allowed to race for a Grand Tour Win for the first time in his life, and it worked out – not because he rode outside of himself, but because he was up against the weakest field possible in a Grand Tour on a course that seemed tailor made for him at a time when he had been able to train and ride his way. He won, but (again) he BARELY won. “Dominant” is not a word we use to describe a rider who loses the leader’s jersey repeatedly over the course of 3 weeks. That sounds more like “Stubborn”, which is definitely Horner.

    Still, winning the Vuelta, no matter how ideal for a rider, at age 41, is pretty damned incredible.

    I just can’t shake this thought. This “doped” professional cyclist has somehow raced for two decades and never produced a positive test or been mentioned BY NAME in any investigation of doping. That’s pretty damned incredible in itself, especially given the level of tolerance for that sort of thing the past few years.

    I could be wrong. Either of us could be wrong (please try to remember that). I’d just rather turn out to be wrong because I gave a great guy the benefit of the doubt.

    It might be worth talking face to face someday. If you’re ever in town, Paul knows how to get me out for a pint.

  32. Berry Rice

    And, Ahem….

    Chris sure doesn’t sound very bitter or upset that he lost millions of dollars at the hands of ALL the admitted dopers over the past 2 decades. Think of all the podiums, money, prestige that was stolen from him over and over again…sure is a calm guy that just stayed on the straight path.

    Here’s a nugget from 2005 Mr Matt DeCanio which EVERYONE thought he was nuts and just a disgruntled poor sport…he got flamed every which way…sad to say he was right so many now proven facts that’s come out the past 8 years:
    “After Phil Zajicek failed his test in China he called Matt on the phone and told him that Chris Horner had offered for him to do EPO, HGH, and testosterone. “You don’t have the goods on Horner? He keeps HGH, EPO, and Testosterone in his fridge. He told me he wanted me to take it to improve my performance but I never did.” Phil believed that Horner was doping up Justin England.”

  33. Erik Long

    I’ve been in Horner’s fridge on numerous occasions, and the only thing I’ve ever found questionable was his taste in beer – and maybe the volume of Coca Cola (often an entire shelf).

    I’m not sure DeCanio is an especially reliable source, especially when he’s handing you third-hand information.

    With the link, I’m just pointing out the Horner says he ain’t rider 15.

  34. Berry Rice

    Hey Erik…sorry about that. I’ve been around pro circuit in the 90’s and got to spend a lot of time in vans /trucks/cars traveling across country and got a lot of 2nd hand info from guys I have known for decades at this point. Drugs where running so freakin’ rampant that they all had stories and info on so many guys in the pack it was (at time) unbelievable until a few admitted to us is open discussions. I was so floored that they would be that open about it as I thought for sure somebody would rat them out…but they never did. Of course twitter, blogs, facebook, camera phones didn’t exist back then so that kind of open air talks and admissions would quickly turn into hearsay. I guess I’ve heard too many things is the past that make it so hard to believe stories like Chris’s Vuelta win. I’ll re-frain from commenting further on Chris.

    But Steve…..keep up the great writing and insight.

  35. Aaron Wilson

    Bruyneel contract in 2007 the only one he got from the pro tour. It came late. The arrival of an American Other facts:

    Sponsor albeit Armstrong gave him some leverage he never had on a pro tour team.

    No Podium in a grand tour? Never been given the opportunity. The Vuelta’s parcours of 11 summit finishes with one non-flat IT and a strong team, especially in the TTT are all facts that your not looking at. The parcours really made it possible.

    Tenex knee tendon surgery is a fairly quick recovery. In many cases it can be done in 20 minutes. It has a pretty high success rate. Short recovery.

    Higher VAMs on certain stages are meaningless. Too many variables to be conclusive plus free of knee pain after two seasons would have to be factor in a better performance. Little racing in a season does not count for much much with a veteran rider. Base fitness over many years does. Most of his team had also not raced the TdF. Zubeldia abandoned.

    Little racing within the calender year, but a huge load last year. Heavy early season. Knee issue then as well. Illness after a great attack on the Arrate climb at the Basque country, but still managed a 8th. Raced the Ardennes classics still sick, after antibotics, the Cali, TDF, Olympics, Utah, USA PRO. Finished 13th at the TdF after three major chase backs of the field including twice having stopped on the first HC climb and finally received a bike change, he regain the lead group from almost 2kms back. Finished 9th on the last mountain stage which had the same three final climbs as in this years Vuelta stage into France. 25 seconds down on Nibali and 9 seconds ahead of Dan Martan. Also the only day he had no team duties. See Bicycling’s interviews for full accounts.

    2009 racing with Levi and Armstrong was also almost null due to three separate crashes with mutliple fractures each time. 2010 saw him only racing with Armstrong in the TdF. He finished 9th. Doubtful if there was a team-wide doping program during this time as with USPS and Discovery.

  36. Steve Tilford Post author

    Aaron-You are pretty thorough in you Chris Horner facts. But, other than your facts, I can’t agree with some of your observations.

    For one, it makes a huge difference that Chris didn’t race since Spring. Coming back to Grand Tour race form after a 5-6 month break from racing is unheard of.

    The VAM numbers aren’t meaningless. They are comparing some of Chris’ Tour of Spain rides to those of “convicted” doping riders. (I hope you understand how much better EPO, etc. makes you.)

    Chris was flying around on Lance’s personal jet, so let’s not try to act like they didn’t have any contact because Chris was hurt the whole time they “rode” together.

    Time will tell.

  37. pete

    This is not true Lance has been tested positive no more than 10 times in his career! This is the subject of UCI’s scandalous cover up by verbruggen.

  38. pete

    Greg was a huge talent as a JR. and he was also picked by many riders in the pro peleton before he won the tour de France, as the next big talent in the sport. I remember riding with a Phil Anderson in the early 80’s and asked him then what names to watch in the pro peleton. He only gave me one name LEMOND!

  39. pete

    First off idiot, you did not ride with Lemond if you did then you would know exactly what kind of talent he was. He was the best Jr in US he was the top Jr in the worlds, he went on to be one of the most noticed riders in the pro peleton. He was born a talent and it continued on throughout his career. For shits sakes get your facts straight.

  40. Thomas F.

    There is the you-asked-for-it ” I am not rider 15″ denial you were looking for. No response? C’mon now… you’ve made the accusations/assertions so at least write some sort of a comeback. I think that is pretty appropriate in this case.

    I do not agree with with your opinion that Horner should have read your blog entries about his alleged doped riding and wouldbe flaming mad. While I like reading the blog and you do have talent as a writer, let’s face facts. This blog is not The NY Times. This blog is merely a vehicle for you to voice your opinions and thoughts in a public and open setting. To your credit, you allow readers to respond and you occaisionally respond to their sometimes differing opinions. The blog is entertainment and a forum. It is not news reporting and it is not journalism. If Horner stopped and answered every critic out there, he would have no time left for training and for other facets of his life. Maybe he simply picks and chooses who to answer and when to answer. Sometimes it’s that simple.

    Does that mean that I disagree with your opinions about Horner? Not necessarily. I do agree that you have an insight that is unique to many of this blog’s readers and that’s why people, (me included), come here to read what you’ve written. Horner’s performances stand out for sure. I mean, he won the Vuelta at 41! And sadly, we all have been disappointed in our cycling heroes way more often than not. In the end, you may be right and Horner may have been juiced for all these years like so many of his contemporaries. It’s also possible that he is as clean as they come. Maybe you should plot his results over the years on a graph along with the testing procedures implemented. That would be interesting to see.

    In the end, it’s the same tired old story. It’s just the name, places and dates that have changed. Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. The only thing I can say for sure is that I do not know whether he is legit or not.

    You do realize that someone could make all these same types of assertions/accusations against yourself, right? I’m sorry to say it, but in today’s world, almost every outstanding performance is called into question. That’s a race we all lose. I think it’s called reality.


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