Horner forced to scrap Tour of California participation
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Horner forced to scrap Tour of California participation

by VeloNation Press at 6:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California, Injury
RadioShack Leopard rider blames knee problem for withdrawal from lineup

Chris HornerThe 2011 race winner Chris Horner has been forced to abandon his planned participation in the upcoming Tour of California, which begins on May 12th.

The American rider started suffering from iliotibial band friction syndrome at the end of Tirreno-Adriatico, with this causing knee pain. He missed the Volta a Catalunay and Vuelta al Pais Vasco as a result but despite that rest from racing plus some treatments, he said the situation is still persisting.

“So far the doctors have been optimistic about my knee problem, but as soon as I started training, the pain came back,” he said. “The last time that I was on the bike for more than four hours was in Catalunya. There is no way I can race now. All of my condition is gone. After Catalunya I was off the bike for four weeks.”

The next step is to go to a specialist in Scottsdale, Arizona, this week, where he hopes to get to the bottom of the problem. “It is possible I have an alignment problem. We will examine all possibilities. I want to race again. All of the doctors I have visited are optimistic that it will heal again, but it just needs time. The problem is that nobody is able to tell me how much time I need.

“This is not a collar bone fracture-like injury, where you can say exactly how much time you need to recover. My injury is more difficult. I can ride my bike but after two hours the pain returns.”

According to directeur sportif Alain Gallopin, another American rider will instead be backed as a leader of the squad. “With former US Champion Matthew Busche we have a good alternative,” he said. “Matthew was impressive the last two years in this race, and he is ready again. We will try to get him on the podium.”

He also envisages other riders performing well, including one who has been trying for a long time to get back to decent shape after a big crash last year.

“I am convinced we will see something from Andy Schleck,” said Gallopin. “He continues his comeback and is motivated and ready to show something. Haimar Zubeldia, sixth in last year’s Tour de France, will also be in the front the coming week and with riders like Bob Jungels we can try to win a stage.”

As for Horner, he describes his absence as ‘such bad news for me,’ but said that he will attend in a supporting capacity. “As the 2011 winner of this race I want to be there. Moreover, I live in San Diego, just twenty minutes from the team hotel. I will visit the team, but it will be with mixed feelings. It all hurts as I was so good in the early season. In Tirreno-Adriatico I was as good as the best riders in the world.”

It is not yet clear if he could make the team for the Tour de France but his intention is to aim for that.

“My best guess is the Tour de Suisse,” he said, speaking about when he hopes to return to competiiton. “And then hopefully the Tour de France. The season is not over yet, there are still good races left, but this situation is heartbreaking for me.”

RadioShack Leopard for Amgen Tour of California, May 12-19:

Matthew Busche, Laurent Didier, Markel Irizar, Bob Jungels, Ben King, Andy Schleck, Jens Voigt and Haimar Zubeldia


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