Horner says podium is ‘doable, for sure,’ but wants to keep pushing for Vuelta victory
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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Horner says podium is ‘doable, for sure,’ but wants to keep pushing for Vuelta victory

by VeloNation Press at 7:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta al Pais Vasco
 
With several more mountain stages ahead, American rider seeking chink in Nibali’s armour

Chris HornerHaving tried to put pressure on race leader Vincenzo Nibali yesterday and again today but being unable to open a gap over him, Chris Horner has said that he hasn’t given up his hope of winning this year’s Vuelta a España.

The American RadioShack Leopard rider finished sixth on today’s long 224.9 kilometre stage from Andorra to Peyragudes, rolling in three minutes twenty seconds behind the solo winner Alexandre Geniez (FDJ.fr) and in the same time as Nibali, the third-placed rider overall Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale).

He remains fifty seconds adrift of the red jersey of Vincenzo Nibali and, after pushing for time gains yesterday and today, is intent on continuing to do so for the remainder of the race.

“My form is still good and the legs are good, even though today was long and cold,” he said. “I‘m hoping to see another warm day in Spain. I think the podium is doable for sure, but right now I’m still hoping to make a move [to win the race – ed.]. I’m just playing it mountain stage by mountain stage.”

Although he lost time in the time trial, Horner has shown that he is one of the two best climbers in the race. He knows that he just needs one day of weakness from Nibali to be able to make inroads into his race lead, and with the gap under a minute and no more time trials to come, he appears to still be in with a decent shot.

“I think Nibali and myself were still the strongest, but Rodriguez and Valverde were putting in strong attacks,” he said of stage fifteen. “Kišerlovski did a big effort to try to break the group apart, but we had five or six guys that were really on top form today so basically we just all watched each other to the line.”

He’s concerned by that, and hopes that things will be more aggressive in the remaining mountain stages. The last thing he wants to see is riders marking each other out of it. “If we keep this up, nothing will change,” he warns. “We might need someone to have a bad day before we can make another selection.”

However he admitted that he too was wary and thus tailored his tactics to budget for the energy he might need to cover those behind him.

“We played some tactics with speed up, slow down, but I remembered this climb and that it wasn’t so difficult. It was more to keep Valverde and Rodriguez from being able to put in one of their sprint attacks,” he said, talking about the way he rode the finale.

“I can handle the acceleration from Nibali but the acceleration from those two is more difficult. I wanted to be sure they didn’t jump over the top of me. Nibali and I were alone together for a few minutes and I was hoping we could gain some more ground, but we hesitated just a slight bit and they brought us back.”

He described Valverde and Rodriguez as two of the world’s best riders and said that it was important not to hesitate in moments such as that.

Wearing the white combination jersey as he leads that classification, Horner is likely to try again on tomorrow’s tough stage to the summit of Aramón Formigal. He’ll be watching Nibali closely and if he sees a chance, he’ll seize it.

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