Chris Horner is upset. Here he was, stage winner and overall leader of the Amgen Tour of California and something was still bothering him. At the post stage 4 press conference Horner expressed himself very plainly.
“I think in my career I’ve been underappreciated, certainly when you arrive here at the Tour of California. I found it quite insulting not to be invited to the press conference. I think I have been underrated many times in my 16 years as a professional rider. The last few years my form has been the best with the best in the world and with the exception of Alberto Contador I think there isn’t anybody who can drop me.”
The press conference the RadioShack rider was speaking about was the pre-Amgen Tour of California meet and greet. There was a panel of racers invited to answer questions from the assembled journalists and Horner was not on the dais. Instead three-time winner Levi Leipheimer and reigning national road race champion Ben King were representing the Shack. So you can’t entirely blame race organizers AEG about accidentally giving the 39-year old rider the flick – the dais thoroughly Shackified. But let’s take a quick look at Horner’s racing resume.
Horner was 4th in Volta a Catalunya, 2nd in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and 4th in last year’s Amgen Tour of California. Do I need to mention 10th place at the 2010 Tour de France? So yeah, I think they should have sneaked him into the press conference. Plus, as any cycling journalist will tell you, he’s pure gold when it comes to interviews or quotes. Look at his “I’m disappointed” statement. He made that in the presence of AEG. That’s what journalists love – his honesty on whatever subject you ask him.
Team RadioShack entered the Amgen Tour of Califoria with two leaders. After the time trial the boys in red will have to decide who their GC guy is, Horner or Leipheimer. I’m betting on Horner. Going forward where does this place him on the internal pecking-order at the Shack? As team manager Johan Bruyneel has said himself, the team is an underdog at this year’s Tour de France. The team doesn’t have a Schleck or Contador (big question mark if the Spaniard will be racing in July) so is Horner the go to guy in July?
Stage 5 in California ended as expected – a field sprint with no change to the GC. Tomorrow the time trial will decide the overall: Horner or Leipheimer.