Chris Horner: “I’m looking forward to the Angliru. It’s going to be a big battle.”
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chris Horner: “I’m looking forward to the Angliru. It’s going to be a big battle.”

by Ben Atkins at 5:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
American within three seconds of taking overall Vuelta a España victory

chris hornerAfter taking 25 seconds out of race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the steep finish to Peña Cabarga, Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) now trails the Italian by just three seconds. Were the race to end now it would be the closest margin of victory ever in a Grand Tour, half the six of the six-second margin that Éric Caritoux beat Alberto Fernández Blanco by in 1984.

There are more opportunities for Horner to take those three seconds, however, or for Nibali to increase his lead again. Whatever happens though, Horner will not be satisfied with losing by such a small amount.

“If I lose the Vuelta by three seconds, it matters,” he said. “But three seconds, it’s nothing really. I don’t forget that I was timed with a deficit of six seconds because of a split in stage 4!

“There are many places where I could have gained three seconds since the start of the Vuelta,” he continued. “Talking about today only, with 100 metres to go, I was worried about the last 75 metres and I raced a little safe. The finish was not as hard as I thought it would be. But the most important is that I’ve made a lot of time today.”

The steep climb to Peña Cabarga is classified as 1st category, instead of the “especial” category of the Alto Hazallanas on stage 10. What it lacks in length - at just 5.9km - it makes up for in steepness, however, and the late sections that topped 20% suited Horner’s strengths; even if - as he admitted - he had never seen the climb before.

“In 2005, racing for Saunier Duval, I lived in an apartment down the hill in Santander for six weeks,” he said. “Fortunately, I never climbed up here. It’s hard! But I was never in the red. I felt easy. I enjoyed it. I had amazing legs.

“Maybe I’d liked it to be a kilometre or two longer,” Horner continued. “It was not quite as long as I thought. Matthew Busche and Rob [Kiserlovski], my guys, dragged me at the bottom of the climb. Saxo led up a little bit, then Katusha took over and I got stuck behind Nicolas Roche. It cost me a little bit of time but I’m really happy with the difference I’ve made. My team has done an amazing job for me again, even without Fabian [Cancellara]. I have fantastic guys on my side. Unbelievable!”

Tomorrow’s stage to the Alto del Naranco above Oviedo finishes on a 2nd category climb, but the race will be decided once and for all on the Alto de L’Angliru on Saturday, on the super-steep slopes of the near-mythical climb.

“I’m looking forward to the Angliru. It’s going to be a big battle,” said Horner. “The climb is the steepest with no draft. Saturday is definitely a better day than tomorrow for me to win the Vuelta, but who knows, at the Naranco I might take the jersey.

“That’s another climb that I don’t know. My knowledge is zero. Tomorrow, it will be a game of tactics. I prefer when it’s extremely hard. I’ll just have to go deep and make sure no one follows me. Maybe it’s better not to be in the lead yet. If I make up the gap, I’ll be in the red and win the overall classification. My possibility to win the Vuelta is definitely a reality.”


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