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Horner: ‘I don’t need Colorado on my resume when I retire’

Airgas-Safeway and Chris Horner said they were disappointed to be left out of this August's USA Pro Challenge race.

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Chris Horner and his Airgas-Safeway Continental team won’t be seen on the roads of Colorado in late August, and the 2013 Vuelta a España champion said he was disappointed his squad was left off of the USA Pro Challenge’s list of teams announced Wednesday.

Horner was not subtle in his comments about the snub, clearly offended to be left out. “If they don’t want to bring the only active [American] grand tour champion, the only [American] guy to ever to win the Tour of Spain, the only grand tour winner over age 40, then that’s their call.

“I can’t do anything about that. There’s always another race. I don’t need Colorado on my resume when I retire whenever. … I am a grand tour winner.”

Airgas-Safeway, a young, up-and-coming team, signed Horner in the off-season, looking to secure spots in the top races on the North American calendar. That has not been the case, however.

Tour of California, a race that Horner won in 2011, also left Airgas-Safeway off its list of teams back in May.

Airgas-Safeway team principle Chris Johnson took the news in stride. “We are disappointed not being invited, but we are here concentrating on the Tour of Utah,” Johnson said after stage 3 on Wednesday.

Johnson did make a point of adding that the team’s principle sponsors, Airgas and Safeway, could aid the growth of the sport. Being left out of the Pro Challenge hampers that. “It’s a loss for the sponsors because obviously Airgas and Safeway both have locations in Colorado. And having national brands like that it’s good for the growth cycling in the United States, so it’s a disappointment that we’re not in.”

Before the season got underway, Horner did not hide his ambitions about performing well in the domestic races after many years in the WorldTour. He has not had the stellar results he had hoped for but has shown he can still compete with best. A fifth place in the road race at the U.S. national championships proved that.

Horner has raced the USA Pro Challenge only once, in 2012, finishing 13th overall.

“Honestly, for me, I am going to be in the front group because I am in the front group in every race I have done for the last 20 years,” Horner said after the stage Wednesday.

“But [USA Pro Challenge] is a difficult race for me to ever win. It’s not steep climbs, and it doesn’t favor me. But do I still want to go? Of course, it’s one of the premier races in the U.S. But they can take whoever they want.”

Horner, two-time runner-up at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, could make a statement this week by capturing his first overall title, if the week goes to plan.

James Raia contributed to this report from the Tour of Utah.

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