Home
Oldest man in race now leads Spanish Grand Tour by nearly a minute

Chris Horner of RadioShack-Leopard, the oldest man in this year's Vuelta a Espana, has taken his second stage of this year's race and with it goes back into the rted jersey of overall leader. The American, who will celebrate his 42nd birthday next month, attacked inside the last 5km of today's final climb to Alto Hazallanas to gain a margin of 52 seconds at the top of the overall standings over Astana's Vincenzo Nibali.

Horner, who spent a day in the leader's jersey after his Stage 3 victory which made him the oldest man to win a Grand Tour stage, and the oldest to lead one - a bar he has raised higher still today - quickly established what would be a decisive margin over his rivals, putting the best part of a minute into them by the time he passed under the 4km to go banner.

With 2km remaining, Nibali, winner of the Giro d'Italia in May and the 2010 Vuelta champion, set off from a select group in pursuit of Horner, but finished 48 seconds down on him on today's stage.

Movistar's Alejandro Valverde took third place, outsprinting Cannondale's Ivan Basso, Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha and Thibaut Pinot of FDJ to the line. Valverde now lies third overall.

Among the riders dropped on today's last ascent, the highest rated so far in this year's race - it's categorised as 'especial,' similar to 'hors categorie' in the Tour de France - was the man who led the race this morning following his stage win yesterday, Katusha's Daniel Moreno.

Tomasz Marczynski of Vacansoleil-DCM had hit that final 15.8km climb at the front of the race, followed by fellow escapees Georg Preidler of Argos-Shimano and Lampre-ISD’s Diego Ulissi, who had led the race over the day’s penultimate climb, the Category 1 Alto de Monachil.

For much of the 175.5 km stage from Torredelcampo, the trio had been part of a ten-man break that had taken a long time to reach its eventual composition, as the peloton fought hard to reel in attacks in the opening hour, but the group split apart on that last but one ascent.

Officially, the final climb had an average gradient of 5 per cent over its entire length, but a section of false flat followed by a descent in the opening half of it made that figure deceptively low.

On the lower slopes, Movistar were forcing the pace on behalf of Valverde at the front of the bunch as they had done for much of the day, and one by one swallowed up the final members of the break.

As the road headed back upwards for the final 7km, the gradient hitting 18 per cent in places, what had been a group of around 30 riders at the bottom of the climb had been reduced to a handful of men.

Among them were AG2R’s Domenico Pozzovivo and Saxo-Tinkoff’s Nicolas Roche. Both would be dropped as – briefly – was Valverde, although Roche at least would limit his losses enough to finish seventh, just 8 seconds behind the quartet led across the line by the Spaniard.

Tomorrow sees the first rest day of this year's race, which resumes on Wednesday with an individual time trial.

Vuelta 2013 Stage 10 - Chris Horner back in red (© Unipublic/Graham Watson)

After his win, Horner said: “Movistar did a good job of making an initial selection and then when Nibali attacked hard he made the selection down to four riders. 

"I saw that Valverde was suffering so I said to myself it was time to go as hard as I could. I thought if I could get a little gap that the others would play with some tactics behind me with none of them really wanting to work too hard. I don’t have quick acceleration, but once I get up to speed I can maintain it.  So I knew if I could get a small gap I would be able to keep that speed all the way to the finish.

He went on: “I don’t expect to hold the jersey after the time trial – that isn’t my specialty and Nibali is a very good time trialist.  I have a little bit of a time cushion now but I’m sure Nibali knew he could give me some time before the time trial and not worry about it. I can stay very close after that until we go to another mountain stage and that will decide this Vuelta. As you can see, every top rider is alone on the last climb, so it’s going to get down to tactics every time.”

Talking of that final ascent, he reflected: “This was a very difficult climb. It was steep and hard, but so steep that there was no draft at all. So it didn’t matter if you were in a group or solo, the effort required was the same. For me it was better to attack while the others played some tactics behind me. I watched my power meter and stayed at 98% all the way to the line, never at 100%.

“Today in the team meeting we talked about the climb. I didn’t think I’d seen it before, but once on it I remembered it from 2006 or 2007. So when we move the race north to the next climbs, it’s possible that I know none of those climbs, but perhaps I’ll know all of them.

“I don’t know if the time trial course suits me or not but it’s been a few years since I’ve had a good time trial, so I don’t expect to be able to keep the jersey but it is what it is. I’m a small guy, I’m a climber and sometimes I do a good time trial. Maybe that time will come again in two days.

“Fabian Cancellara was fantastic for me. Really the entire team was unbelievable today, they have worked so much for me. I couldn’t be happier. Again I’m the oldest rider to win a stage in a grand tour. I don’t feel real pressure in having the jersey, but once you have it there are many things you have to do after the stage with the press so it takes up more of your time when you want to rest. But with the rest day tomorrow I feel like I can recover fine.  If I lose the jersey after the time trial, I will fight again on a mountain stage to get it back.”

 

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

21 comments

Avatar
Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

How depressing.

Avatar
pwake [376 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Some Fella wrote:

How depressing.

Agreed. It's a shame that he had to wait until he was 41 to race on a level playing field and start getting the results he was always capable of.

Avatar
Leviathan [1980 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
pwake wrote:
Some Fella wrote:

How depressing.

Agreed. It's a shame that he had to wait until he was 41 to race on a level playing field and start getting the results he was always capable of.

Come on people what are you hinting at?

Avatar
Paul J [884 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Look up Levi Leipheimer's testimony to USADA in the Lance case, and ask yourself who rider-15 is.

Avatar
sneakerfrfeak [101 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Any thoughts on Basso's rediscovered ability to hang out with the big boys?

Avatar
Alan Tullett [1568 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Paul J wrote:

Look up Levi Leipheimer's testimony to USADA in the Lance case, and ask yourself who rider-15 is.

For those who can't be bothered:

'In 2008 Rider 15 told me that he was using EPO during his recovery from an injury in 2005 before the Tour of Switzerland.' from Levi Leipheimer's testimony.

From Chris Horner's wiki entry,'After being injured in the beginning of 2005, Horner showed strong performance in the USPRO Championships and won his first major European victory by taking the sixth stage of the 2005 Tour de Suisse.'

Coincidence?

Avatar
Lungsofa74yearold [282 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Basso - perhaps just thinking about doping makes him go faster...  19

Avatar
Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The changed world of cycling. Cleaner than ever before.

How hollow does all this have to ring before something is done?

I know cost is a factor in effective testing, but how about every professional athlete (from Baseball to Tennis) puts down a commission/retainer to be a pro each year which goes towards effective testing.

There's double jeopardy in that you will be caught and if you are caught you lose your earnings when you get caught. It's like these guys are thumbing their noses at us.....but then again the Vuelta has always seemed like the 'smacked up' version of the Tour.

Avatar
Doper [69 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Just watched the highlights... and oh man that was funny!  24 Thanks for the laugh Chris Horner.  21

Avatar
Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Doper wrote:

Just watched the highlights... and oh man that was funny!  24 Thanks for the laugh Chris Horner.  21

He is just chuckling away to himself as he goes up those climbs. He knows what a joke it is.....

Avatar
Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The most depressing thing is that the clean riders he left behind on the mountain still cant find it within themselves to call him out.
The 'zero tolerance' teams and the David Millars of this world should be saying something
Must be very frustrating for people like Roche to see him whizzing off up the road but until he and others make a stand the Horner's of this world are going to continue taking the piss (and i know its very easy for me to sit and and say that when im not actually dealing with these people and the legal implications of making accusations).
This Horner nonsense is, hopefully, just a sideshow and the clean, quality riders will prevail in what is otherwise a really enjoyable race.

Avatar
daddyELVIS [655 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Thrashed Nibs - ridiculous!

Avatar
notfastenough [3682 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

And I thought last year's Vuelta smelled a bit.

Avatar
ilderracer [14 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

There seems to be a few too many accusations going on here. I'm not saying Horner isn't a doper or isn't doping in this years Vuelta, but without solid proof it's hard to truly accuse someone of cheating, whether or not they've done it in the past.

I'm 25 and can do a solid TT of around 20 - 21 minutes but every week I get smashed by a 64 year old who's been cycling since he was 12. I'm not entirely surprised by Horner's performances based on the fact I'm mullered by a guy 40 years older than me every week...

Avatar
jackh [121 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

ilderracer... I agree with your comments about not throwing accusations. However, there is strong evidence that there is something fishy going on.

1) Leipheimers evidence.
2) Your analogy with your weekly TT just doesn't work out... This is the top level of the sport, the top competitors are producing stats at the highest level of what a human is capable of. The margins are tiny. The people at your TT club are not the best, and you are not, and thats why it is quite possible for a 64 year old to beat you. This however is highly improbable.

Avatar
daddyELVIS [655 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
jackh wrote:

ilderracer... I agree with your comments about not throwing accusations. However, there is strong evidence that there is something fishy going on.

1) Leipheimers evidence.
2) Your analogy with your weekly TT just doesn't work out... This is the top level of the sport, the top competitors are producing stats at the highest level of what a human is capable of. The margins are tiny. The people at your TT club are not the best, and you are not, and thats why it is quite possible for a 64 year old to beat you. This however is highly improbable.

.....and that relates to top class pro sport how exactly?

Avatar
jackh [121 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

My response is in reply to the comment of ilderacer, who I disagree with. Let me explain further.

At a TT club you have competitors of all ages and levels of ability, and different levels of time to commit to training, and of course different levels of natural ability. It is therefore unlikely that age is a good indicator of how well one will perform with respects to your peers. Other factors play an important part.

In professional sport it is well known that age is a strong indicator of performance, that is, there is a peak of performance, which declines as the athlete grows older. Competitors at a Grand Tour are at the peak limit of what human physiology is capable of. Old age is a massive natural disadvantage against younger competitors and it is highly unlikely that someone in their fourties can produce figures that match or even beat someone is twenty-eight.

Avatar
pwake [376 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
bikeboy76 wrote:
pwake wrote:
Some Fella wrote:

How depressing.

Agreed. It's a shame that he had to wait until he was 41 to race on a level playing field and start getting the results he was always capable of.

Come on people what are you hinting at?

I wasn't hinting at anything; I meant what I wrote. Chris Horner's biggest problem now is that he is an American performing well in a Spanish race; it's all too much Johnny Foreigner for a lot of people to cope with obviously. The Vuelta always throws up performances that Brits find suspicious but it's a very different race to the other GTs; a significantly different type of parcours and riders at many varying levels of form, lots riding just to prepare for the Worlds, for instance. It's strange that nobody really seems to be doubting Roche's performances as they are a bit out of the blue, but then he's Irish so he must be as honest as the is day is long...

Avatar
Karbon Kev [688 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

oh come on, you did see the way in which he went up the final climb with Nibali trailing in his wake, come on people!!

Avatar
ilderracer [14 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
jackh wrote:

My response is in reply to the comment of ilderacer, who I disagree with. Let me explain further.

At a TT club you have competitors of all ages and levels of ability, and different levels of time to commit to training, and of course different levels of natural ability. It is therefore unlikely that age is a good indicator of how well one will perform with respects to your peers. Other factors play an important part.

In professional sport it is well known that age is a strong indicator of performance, that is, there is a peak of performance, which declines as the athlete grows older. Competitors at a Grand Tour are at the peak limit of what human physiology is capable of. Old age is a massive natural disadvantage against younger competitors and it is highly unlikely that someone in their fourties can produce figures that match or even beat someone is twenty-eight.

Then by all accounts that 64 year old should have been doing 14 minute 10 mile TT's at my age? Yeah right...

My point is that it's not impossible for a man of his age to be doing what he's doing. I agree entirely that there is a peak for the pros with a steady decline past the age of about 33. However, that's not dismissing the fact that it's possible Horner has simply peaked later than everyone else.

To the rest: I'm not disputing the fact there is previous suspicion surrounding Horner and I wouldn't be entirely surprised if he is found to be a doper. It is, however, a bit soon to be jumping to conclusions. He could be completely spent come the third week anyway...

Avatar
notfastenough [3682 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
ilderracer wrote:
jackh wrote:

My response is in reply to the comment of ilderacer, who I disagree with. Let me explain further.

At a TT club you have competitors of all ages and levels of ability, and different levels of time to commit to training, and of course different levels of natural ability. It is therefore unlikely that age is a good indicator of how well one will perform with respects to your peers. Other factors play an important part.

In professional sport it is well known that age is a strong indicator of performance, that is, there is a peak of performance, which declines as the athlete grows older. Competitors at a Grand Tour are at the peak limit of what human physiology is capable of. Old age is a massive natural disadvantage against younger competitors and it is highly unlikely that someone in their fourties can produce figures that match or even beat someone is twenty-eight.

Then by all accounts that 64 year old should have been doing 14 minute 10 mile TT's at my age? Yeah right...

My point is that it's not impossible for a man of his age to be doing what he's doing. I agree entirely that there is a peak for the pros with a steady decline past the age of about 33. However, that's not dismissing the fact that it's possible Horner has simply peaked later than everyone else.

To the rest: I'm not disputing the fact there is previous suspicion surrounding Horner and I wouldn't be entirely surprised if he is found to be a doper. It is, however, a bit soon to be jumping to conclusions. He could be completely spent come the third week anyway...

I do see where you're coming from - there's a 58-year-old in our club that smashes the majority of us on climbs regularly, but I also don't think it's a valid comparison. A trackie I know says that the OAPs on the boards are flying, largely because they've retired and are basically fulfilling their dream of riding full-time in the hope of an age-group national or rainbow jersey. This is the kind of thing (differences in lifestyle etc) that differentiates us lot in the general ranks - but at the pro level, those guys are all in the, what, top 0.01%? To make it into that group at all is remarkable, but to outperform all the others in that group when you're 42, and they're 21-35 is pushing it a little bit too much.

I do believe there is a new clean generation emerging, but I also watched last year's Vuelta and saw too many top-end attacks that didn't result in a mediocre performance the day after.