Chris Horner: “You said Nibali attacked six times? I thought they were ten or twenty.”
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chris Horner: “You said Nibali attacked six times? I thought they were ten or twenty.”

by Ben Atkins at 5:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
41-year-old set to become first American as well as oldest ever rider to win the Vuelta

chris hornerHaving already become the oldest rider to win a Grand Tour stage, and to lead a Grand Tour, during this Vuelta a España, Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) is poised to become the oldest ever overall winner of a three-week race. The 41-year-old American, who will turn 42 in October, is more than five years older than the current oldest winner, the Belgian Firmin Lambot, who was 36 when he won the Tour de France in 1922.

With Andy Hampsten having won the Giro d’Italia in 1988, and Greg Lemond having won the Tour de France in 1986, 1989 and 1990 [Lance Armstrong having been disqualified from his seven victories - ed] Horner will also become the first American to win the Vuelta.

Going into today’s penultimate stage, Horner led the race by a slim three-second margin over 2010 Vuelta winner, and reigning Giro d’Italia champion, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). The 41-year-old managed to withstand the attacks of the man 13 years his junior, and managed to deliver the decisive blow himself with less than two kilometres to go.

By the finish, Horner had widened his overall lead to 37 seconds which, barring disaster, will be enough to see him secure the race overall after tomorrow’s largely ceremonial Madrid stage.

“This is an amazing moment,” said Horner at the finish. “You said Nibali attacked six times? I thought they were ten or twenty.

“But ok, I agree. He put on an amazing show,” he said of his big overall rival. “I can imagine how beautiful it was to watch from a couch. It must have been unbelievable for the fans. I hope people have enjoyed every pedal stroke.

“It was too dark in the fog, I never saw the last kilometre mark, I misunderstood the last kilometre and the banner for the KOM,” Horner said of his final Vuelta-winning attack. “When I expected a downhill, it was still going up, so I was really twisted in the hardest part. I had put on the big chain ring and I kept suffering.

The oldest rider to win a Grand Tour in recent year has been Cadel Evans, who became the oldest post-war winner of the Tour at the age of 34 in 2011. Horner is under no illusions as the the significance of his imminent eclipsing this by more than seven years.

“A guy of my age winning a Grand Tour, it’s something you’ll maybe never see again in your life,” he said. “Earlier this year, when I was at home after my knee surgery, I told my 11 year old boy that I wanted to continue racing but that I might be forced to retire. He said ‘you can’t retire, it’s not cool, right now at school I tell my mates that my dad is a professional cyclist and rides Giro, Tour and Vuelta, I can’t tell them that my dad is an ex-cyclist!’

“Now he will say that his dad is the only American to have won the Vuelta and the only 42 year old to have won a Grand Tour.”

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