Chris Horner: “I have no mixed feelings about this”
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chris Horner: “I have no mixed feelings about this”

by Ben Atkins at 1:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tirreno-Adriatico
American upbeat despite losing Tirreno-Adriatico on the final day; RadioShack-Nissan-Trek goes 1-2 in time trial

Chris HornerThe final time trial stage of Tirreno-Adriatico was a mixed one for the RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team. As expected, four-time World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara scorched around the San Benedetto el Tronto seafront course - in a time of 10’36” - to take the stage victory, while the team’s sprinter Daniele Bennati was just 12 seconds behind in second place.

Less good for the American-sponsored, Luxembourg-registered team though, was that Chris Horner lost the overall race lead to Liquigas-Cannondale’s Vincenzo Nibali, in a discipline that he doesn’t specialise in, on a course that didn’t suit him.

“Even though Chris didn’t win, it was a great week for us,”said Cancellara afterwards. “He’s happy and we’re happy as team because we all did our best.

“Chris has been recovering from his lung embolism for the last eight months and this was his first race,” the Swiss champion added. “This week has given us confidence for the classics coming up. Now I’m looking forward to resting up and being ready for Milan-Sanremo.”

Horner himself was, indeed, very happy with his race, despite losing out to Nibali at the very last moment.

“I have no mixed feelings about this,” said a happy Horner after the stage. “It’s been a fantastic week. The team did a great [team time trial] to set me up to take the jersey and I defended it for a few days.  Tactically I think we did a brilliant race.

“This is not a course that is ideal for me, but to stay on the podium is good for me,” he continued.  “I was concerned that I might not stay in the top three.  The only feeling I have about this is one of feeling great – great about the way the team worked this week and great about the way my legs feel.”

Tirreno-Adritico was Horner’s first race since being forced out of last year’s Tour de France with concussion after a big crash on stage seven. He was then diagnosed with an embolism on his lung and spent the remainder of the year in recovery.

“After what happened in the Tour last year and to be out of racing for so long, for me there was always a little bit of doubt how I would feel to come back,” he said.  “I held the jersey for three days in my first race in eight months. I’m coming out of this very satisfied.  My form is fantastic and I look forward to the next stage races.”

Horner is now set to head for the Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al Pais Vasco, where he finished fourth and second respectively last year, in an identical build up to the defence of his Tour of California title.

RadioShack-Nissan-Trek directeur sportif Luca Guercilena was equally pleased with the team’s results, as he explained the objectives coming to the race.

“Tirreno-Adriatico is a big, historical race which has a lot of different aspects to it,” he said. “We came here to get a good result with Chris Horner, to perform at best in the [team time trial] and at the individual TT with Fabian, and to try our luck in the sprints with Bennati. We weren't successful in the sprints, but we managed the other two goals really well with Horner and Cancellara.

“The expectation was to be competitive and to build up form for the upcoming Classics, starting with Milan-Sanremo on Saturday,” he continued. “With the exception of Horner, the group here is more or less the line-up that is going to help Fabian in his spring goals. Therefore, it is very important that they ride together a lot and build on teamwork that will be useful in the Classics.

“The guys all come out of Tirreno-Adriatico in good shape and are ready for Milan-Sanremo on Saturday,” he concluded. “Tirreno-Adriatico is in our eyes a better preparation for Sanremo than Paris-Nice because the stages here are longer. We had a stage of 230 km and one of 260 km, which comes close to the length of la Primavera.


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