Tirreno-Adriatico: Horner impresses in debut race of 2013
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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Tirreno-Adriatico: Horner impresses in debut race of 2013

by VeloNation Press at 7:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tirreno-Adriatico
 
American veteran says he’ll fight for a podium finish in the general classification

Chris HornerRiding his first UCI race of the season, Chris Horner underlined his current good form with a strong ride on today’s queen stage of Tirreno Adriatico. The American finished fifth in the race to the top of the Prati di Tivo climb, crossing the line fifteen seconds behind the winner Chris Froome (Sky) and ahead of Alberto Contador (Team Saxo Tinkoff), who had attacked twice on the final ascent.

Horner adopted a similar tactic to Froome on the climb, choosing not to respond when Contador jumped clear. He also stayed put when Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini) leaped across the gap to the Spaniard, tracking Froome and making the junction when the Briton accelerated inside the final kilometre.

“It all came down to the last climb. Sky really blew things apart. Froome was very patient when Alberto was attacking and just stayed with his teammates,” he said. “His team was so strong. Then with one k to go he put in one attack and dropped me. He was patient and calm. He just used his team perfectly; really intelligent racing.

“There was a big block headwind but he had two Colombians up there that stayed on the front almost the entire climb.”

Unlike Froome, Contador, Nibali, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Horner has not competed this year before the start of this race. Those other riders all competed in the Tour of Oman, with Contador, Nibali and Rodriguez also riding the Tour de San Luis.

Horner has preferred a slightly quieter start to the season, but said that he knows what is best for him. “I’m 41 now so I know how to stay calm. If at this age you haven’t figured it out, you probably should have retired a long time ago,” he said. “I’m here to be good and test my form. This race is the best quality field I’ve ever seen outside the Tour de France. It’s good. This has everyone – GC guys and sprinters.”

Andy Schleck is on paper the team’s GC rider for the Tour de France, as Dirk Demol said earlier, but with the Luxembourg rider struggling to get back to form after his big crash last year, Horner will be keen to put in a big showing in this and other races. He’ll want to also lay claim to team leadership, particularly if Schleck can’t get back on track in time for the Tour.

Three days remain in Tirreno-Adriatico and Horner said that he’s ambitious, while also realising that time is running out. He’ll begin tomorrow’s fifth stage in sixth place, forty seconds back and 24 seconds off the third place of Nibali.

“I’ll be happy within the top ten but I’m still aiming for the podium,” he said, then accepted it would be tough. “It’s highly unlikely now with only a few climbing chances left. My days for the GC were probably made here.”

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