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Training to peak for a key event may be more art than science, but Chris Horner is two-for-two this season.
Earlier this year, Horner aimed to come into flying form for the Tour of the Basque Country in April and the Amgen Tour of California in May. As the 2010 Basque victor, Horner succeeded in April, helping teammate Andreas Klöden to the win and finishing second himself. And U.S. cycling fans are well aware of how Horner fared at America’s biggest race in May.
Now, Horner is hoping that the training plan he mapped out and executed for July will come to fruition.
“My form is good,” Horner said. “It’s a little bit under the California form, but I somewhat expected that, since it’s pretty hard to peak three times in one season.”
The Basque Country is six days long. California is eight. Since the Tour is a different animal entirely, Horner dialed back his riding somewhat in June.
“I kept the training just a little bit under what I was doing before Cali, so I didn’t expect the form to be the same as Cali,” he said. “But hopefully, with this kind of racing, the great form reappears before we get into the big climbs. It’s not just simple science, you know. Sometimes you just cross you fingers and hope for it. Or maybe you get an injury, and it doesn’t show up. But right now I’ve got really good form, that’s for sure.”
At the Tour, there is good form, and then there is good luck.
On stage 5 RadioShack was hit with a spate of bad luck. The most notable incident was Jani Brajkovic crashing out of the race, but Horner also spent a good amount of time chasing back on after a mechanical, and Varoslav Popovych crashed twice after assisting Horner. Levi Leipheimer also crashed and bruised his left wrist.
“Obviously I am super disappointed with this,” Brajkovic said. “My entire year was focused on this Tour de France and now after five days it’s over.”
“It’s just pure bad luck,” RadioShack director Johan Bruyneel said. “Obviously it’s a big loss for us to lose Jani. It’s not fun to lose a rider in the first week, and it’s even worse to lose one of our protected riders. It’s too bad for Jani. He was in great shape, and these are actually the most difficult stages for those guys, to get through them without any damage and without any time loss.”
RadioShack came to the Tour with Horner, Brajkovic, Klöden and Levi Leipheimer as GC riders. Klöden is currently in fifth, 10 seconds behind race leader Thor Hushovd. Horner and Leipheimer are 13th and 14th, both 18 seconds back.
With Brajkovic out and Popovych thoroughly banged up — he hit an ambulance in one of his crashes — Bruyneel was looking forward to a fresh start the next day.
“I’m happy this day is over,” he said, “because it didn’t look very good at certain moments.”