Tour of California – Sans Chris Horner

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I saw a couple days ago that the Tour of California selections were out and Chris Horner’s new domestic team, Airgas/Safeway, was absent.   That really surprised me.  I meant to post about it then, but got caught up in life.  There are a lot of reasons that they should/need to be in the race.  You can see some of these reasons, here, at RKP. 

Anyway, I looked over the list and can’t really see a domestic team that needs to be omitted.  That would only leave not having one of the Pro Tour Teams left out.  I’m not sure the ratio of Pro Tour to domestic teams is mandatory, but I’m sure they have that correct.

I read a couple articles about Chris’ response to being snubbed by the Tour of California.  He is vocal and adamant about the injustice.  He’s not shy about saying his thoughts.

“I don’t know what the promoters are thinking. They’ve obviously done harm to the race by not bringing me. You left the only current rider with a grand-tour résumé who was going to show up, and I’m a past champion there.”

He also said, “I’m the No. 1 rider in the US and certainly the strongest and have the best résumé for stage racing.”

You can go to Peleton and checked out his whole interview if you’re interested.

I’ve written a couple posts on Chris Horner.  I like the guy.  But he has made some career errors and bad decisions.  First and foremost was winning the Tour of Spain.  And calling it before he did it.  That was maybe a short term achievement, but it has caused him more harm than good since.  A Tour of Spain winner riding for a US domestic team is the result.

And, like all the articles about this snub have stated, he has a cloud hanging over his head.  He’s never been officially sanctioned, but his name is always there  and has been associated with doping. I haven’t seen it, but I guess George Hincapie said something about this in his new book.

That really must be there reason for his team being left out of the race.  They are trying to stay away from a potential controversy.  I don’t really blame them.  But, leaving his team out, really is a blow to domestic sponsorship.

Photo: Graham Watson |

Photo: Graham Watson |

Chris isn’t smiling so much right about now.




38 thoughts on “Tour of California – Sans Chris Horner

  1. pdxwheels

    Steve, do you think it might be because Horner is the only guy on the team with a chance of finishing the race? He would probably be the only Airgas rider to finish stage 1.

    There are stronger teams lining up for Tuesday night crits in most cities.

  2. Jeff M

    “That really must be there reason for his team being left out of the race. They are trying to stay away from a potential controversy. I don’t really blame them. But, leaving his team out, really is a blow to domestic sponsorship.”
    Well, I guess Airgas/Safeway should of thought about the risks of taking Horner in a little more before signing him? Or, maybe they did and want the controversy and publicity it creates. Gotta love the chess these teams play…

  3. Sam

    I don’t think you can label a guy’s winning the Vuelta a career error and a bad decision no matter how you slice it. He won a grand tour and that’s as big as it gets. He passed any and all tests. What more should he do to satisfy doubters? That’s why they have drug testing in place. All you can do as a winner is pass the tests. If people don’t believe it, then so be it. As for calling it beforehand, Horner doesn’t lack for confidence and he called it the way he saw it. He did follow through on his boasting, right?

    If someone has proof, then bring it. Otherwise, keep your sour grapes all to yourself.

  4. Bill

    Fair enough. But if anyone has actually witnessed Horner taking PEDs (as they did with Armstrong), why is no one coming forward? Or, is it a bunch of rumors and innuendo.

  5. The Cyclist

    … and I think there’re a bunch of guys not named Lance who’s won GTs and passed the tests and still got their results in the history books. What are we gonna do about that?

  6. Jim

    PDXwheels has it right. There is virtually no way that any other riders on that team would finish the race. He took a chance on the team and the result wasn’t what he wanted but it certainly was expected by everyone else in the domestic pro ranks.
    Hincapie and Smart Stop are getting their first shot in California and both of those teams have a lot of results to back up their inclusion in the race.

  7. Larry T.

    All the whining about this fellow being excluded from ToC sort of omits one rather large fact. If all the positive stuff you refer to about him is indeed true, why is he not on a team important enough to get selected for this race? Ask Juan Jose Cobo what winning the Vuelta did for him.

  8. Sam

    Steve, yes you’re right. There is a gigantic difference though. Armstrong is a proven and admitted doper. Horner is neither. You’re comparing apples to oranges.

    Do you automatically assume that everyone who wins is doped? That’s a very slippery slope that has no good outcomes. What about when your own favorite rider wins? Will you accuse him or her? What ever happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty? The races are just that- races. Someone will win. It’s a very big mistake to assume every winner is a doper. The next winner just might be you, or your kid. What will you say when that happens?

  9. El Tejan

    Isn’t curious that no other domestic team was willing to take a chance on Horner? There is something just under the surface that everybody seems to think they know.

  10. Bolas Azules

    Just another piece of perennial pack filler that found the right program and now he believes his own press clippings – “I’m the No. 1 rider in the US and certainly the strongest…” Look, Euro teams, first rate employers and race organizers aren’t touching the guy for a reason and he needs to come to grips with this reality before he opens his mouth.

    Douchbaggery aside, the guy should take some notes from the previous generations of juiced-up American riders and just go quietly, say ‘thank you’ to everyone that has played along with the ‘champion shtick’ and humbly be supportive of the sport… History has proven that lashing-out, being outspoken / boastful and making comeback plans has …well, not gone over well.

  11. jeff

    I can’t imagine that winning the Vuelta was a mistake for Horner. Not retiring immediately afterwards probably was. If he was 33 and not 43, he’d be on a protour team. Plenty of those teams would take him in a second but for his age. You think Tinkoff was scared away by doping rumors? Or Astana? Or….

  12. Vojtek

    You people make me laugh. The “secret” that you refer to as the reason Horner isn’t getting the big contracts is no secret at all. It’s his age! No team wants to take the chance on him because of his age! It’s the same in all sports. The teams won’t take the financial risk of hiring a rider perceived as being too old.

  13. Vojtek

    Such negativity! Give the man credit. He won the Vuelta. He is 43. Of course he will have a hard time to find a team. He is correct when he claims to be the No.1 U.S. rider. You wannabees only bash people. Say something positive instead. The guy won the Vuelta. In his 40’s.

  14. pdxwheels

    That, and it is widely rumored that he has been named as a PED user and facilitator. Many expect these allegations to become official very soon.

  15. Sal Ruibal

    How long is the Armstrong stink going to stay with these guys? I like Chris and a lot of the old crew. That doesn’t mean I accept the stuff that went on in their prime years. It doesn’t help when their former boss declares he’d probably do it the same way again. I’m not sure if Lance really believes that but it certainly doesn’t help his former cohorts land team contracts. Will the last doper please lock the door behind him and throw away the key. BTW, what ever happened Freddy and Tyler and the other Rock Racing guys? Maybe they went to work for American Apparel.

  16. orphan

    Let me get this strait. Chris eats cheese burgers before a race but is smart enough to dope for 10 years and never get caught? Something seems wrong with this to me. If the guy has a license to race then he should be in the race along with his team. I’m bummed. I wanted to see what he could do.

  17. pdxwheels

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but Horner doesn’t live on cheeseburgers and coke. Look at the dude, he is skin and bones. His training and diet is obviously dialed. Every once in awhile he eats a cheeseburger in front of a camera or talks about eating a snickers. He’s always played up his good ol’ boy usa persona and he has fun with it. When you ride 500+ miles a week, you can handle a few extra calories.

    Horner is a nice guy, he is funny, he is fun to watch race. He has also long been rumored as a user and supplier of EPO. All of these things can be true.

  18. mark

    Exactly. Its a team sport and having 1 big name on the team doesn’t make the team big. I looked at the selected teams and didn’t see one that stood out as one that Safeway should have been selected over.

  19. Mike Rodose

    I wonder what van Horner might recommend?

    Blacked-out windows are clearly a requirement.

    Maybe he favors the ones you can Charge Up.

  20. nancy

    Team Garmin is a team full of former dopers and managed by a former doper And they are allowed to race at the top level in US and worldwide. If you let them have a license, you have to let Horner’s race in California. You can’t disregarded him for hist past about allegation. And giving a chance to a new young riders to compete and step up their game isn’t bad too.

  21. Stu

    “All you can do as a winner is pass the tests. If people don’t believe it, then so be it.”

    Oh shut the fuck up with the Lance-isms. We saw how that argument holds up.

  22. R Mc

    uh . . . there’s more than a few people making those statements. e.g. whoever it was that mentioned the older rider on Saturn who showed him how to dose epo and not get caught . . .

  23. Jim

    You would seem to be forgetting that “team” is a big part of this.
    His team does not have the qualifications to be there.
    IOW, he picked the wrong team.

  24. mike crum

    a post and replies about drugs again…. nothing new here..i just watched the 2007 paris roubaix race where stewy won. broke away with 45k to go. rode the last 45k in 55:30. awsome!! the announcer was going crazy as was shawn kelly the color man on how great stewy is, how hes a great family man, came from great parents bla bla bla.. fast forward to 2015.. yep, he dopped too to win that race.. horner”associated” with doping rumors?? lol!! guys a pro cyclist that won a major tour.. of course he dopped!!!!! and never missed taking his masking agents!!!

  25. Peter Ghozinya

    Word to Vojtek and to Jeff and to Sam. You guys are rockin the truth. And the van? Looks like Steve was the victim of the ‘ol California used car two step.

  26. Ducky

    Many of you have essentially written off the entire generation of riders from the past 25 years. Proof or not, you seem convinced that if they had success at all then they must have doped. And you do not restrict your feelings to only American riders. This is quite disheartening and I believe false. So, now we are in a slightly cleaner generation, perhaps, and you are still participating in following the sport. Some of you are clearly quite bitter about the whole thing. Why do you continue to care? And to comment every time a “doping” topic is posted by Tilly? I can’t answer this one for you…

    The biggest take away for me in the exclusion of Airgas/Safeway is the turning away of two potential sponsors from our sport who have really really deep pockets. These are not “some rich old bored guys” who want to sponsor a team cuz they have nothing better to do as that jackass Landis stated. Our sport is desperate for domestic sponsorship. All the TOC had to do was add an extra team. The number of racers is much smaller in the TOC then it is in other countries national tours. Alas, the TOC is showing itself to be as bad as USA cycling. With these guys running the show our sport will continue to languish. This is in stark contrast to other sports and industries, were American business prowess has been incredibly successful, if the measure of success is a business with large volumes of income and money for the owners and the workers. The workers are the riders! How much salary do you think the average US domestic pro makes? I don’t have the stats, but in laymen’s terms, I know they don’t make shit.

  27. Dave King

    Hi Steve,

    Great post once again. I’m surprised no one has mentioned that another possible cause for Airgas-Safeway’s exclusion from the ToC could be that they are not paying money to sponsor a portion of the ToC. you read that right. Almost all of the domestic US pro/continental team have to “sponsor” the race with tens of thousands dollars. Perhaps the team didn’t have the funds to do this or the title sponsors weren’t interested in handing over another $50k. This kind of “arrangement” is a little known fact about the big US races and I don’t think the organizers really want it known that this is how the domestic and continental teams get into the races.

  28. Max

    @Ducky….Do you know what Airgas/Safeway sponsorship money is gonna do for me, you and 99.999999% of people who ride bikes??? NOTHING!!!!! People throw words/phrases around like this all of the time without giving any “real” thoughts as to what they are saying.

  29. Jim

    So you should include a team because of one rider they hired?
    Quite bluntly, the team has done NOTHING to merit being in the event.
    Other teams have to work long and hard to get there.
    If there was room for one more team, A-S still would not be the next in line.


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