Saturday, May 2, 2009

Chris Horner Checks In

Hi, again to the readers. Here's a short update since the last time I wrote at the end of the Tour of California. This will be the start of my lead up to the Tour of Italy, during which I'll be doing regular updates.

After the Tour of California, I had to take a two-week break to let the injuries I had sustained in my crash on Stage 3 heal. I spent the time off hanging out in Bend, but then headed south to San Diego to start training again toward my next goal, Tour of the Basque Country. Luckily I had a training partner for the first 10 days of my training block, Bend local, Carl Decker. He had headed south looking for warm weather and ended up staying with me in San Diego for a while. The two of us put in 10 intense days of training, including great riding, a good diet, and lots of sleeping and stretching. As I arrived at the Tour of the Basque Country, my form was some of the best that I have ever experience in all of my years at racing. That lasted a total of four days before I got caught in a crash during one of the stages and found myself flying over a cliff in the mountains of northern Spain. I had slid under the guardrail and had to hang on to the post to keep from sliding down the side of a mountain.

I ended up back on the DL with a fractured shoulder and a couple of fractured ribs. I took the first flight that would get me back to Bend for another week of recovery and time with my kids. With the Tour of Italy coming up, I had to dig deep to find the focus and motivation to stay fit despite the new injuries. After the week in Bend, I headed back to San Diego, to resume my training where I had left off when I headed to Spain.

Three weeks after the crash, I was off to New Mexico to race Tour of the Gila, an American classic, with none other than Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, the Tour of California winner. Levi's spectacular form, which never seems to fade, showed itself once again as he took the win on the first stage, a mountain-top finish, and with it, the leader's jersey for the race. That left the job of defending the lead to Lance and I, and since we only have a three-man team, it is a big job! Levi's second win came Friday in the time trial, not only giving the team another exciting win, but also increasing his lead in the overall classification to make the job of defending easier for Lance and I. Today, we made it through a criterium unscathed, maintaining Levi's lead.

The next few days will be filled with lots of hard work, but with Lance, seemingly fully recovered from his own recent collarbone break, riding incredibly strong in his warm up race for the Tour of Italy, and my fitness improving every day, it just may be possible for a three man team to take on an entire field and take the win at the end of the week. The running joke on the team this week is that between our "advanced ages" and injuries, we are not only the oldest team here but also the most hobbled!

I can't say how excited I am to be starting the Giro next Saturday in Italy. I feel like we are going to take the excellent motivation and momentum that we are gaining this week over with us to Europe. With how strong our three-man team has been, I can't wait to see what a full nine-man squad can do when we meet up with the rest of our Astana teammates in Italy.

Be sure to tune in for my next updates, coming to you directly from the 100th Tour of Italy, where the racing is sure to be spectacular, and where the world will be watching and waiting to see how Lance Armstrong's return to racing will light up the sport once again.


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