Horner to race Vuelta a Colombia in August

The 43-year-old is penciled in to compete in the 13-stage race across the Colombian Andes

There won’t be any grand tours for Chris Horner (Airgas-Safeway) this season, but the veteran American will be starting the most important stage race in South America.

Race officials from the Vuelta a Colombia confirmed Thursday that the 43-year-old will compete in the 13-stage race across the Colombian Andes (August 2-15) as one of its top riders.

Officials called Horner a “special guest” for the Colombian tour, arguably the most important stage race in Latin America and celebrating its 65th edition this year.

“I can confirm that the team did receive an invitation to the 2015 Vuelta Colombia, but that we have not confirmed our participation,” Airgas-Safeway team director Chris Johnson told VeloNews via email. “The Vuelta Colombia is a very prestigious race with a long and respected history. We’re honored to receive an invitation, but we have not confirmed our participation as we’re still waiting to see if we will be invited to the races in Utah and Colorado.”

The 2013 Vuelta a España champion has started only two stage races this season — Tour of the Gila (ninth overall) and the Tour of Azerbaijan (fourth overall) — and was fifth in the national road race championships in May, and 24th in the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic. Horner’s Airgas-Safeway team was not invited to start the Amgen Tour of California this year.

That means Horner will not be racing at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (August 3-9), but he could race the USA Pro Challenge (August 17-23) in Colorado. Invitations have not yet been revealed for that race.

No American has ever won the Colombian tour. Spanish rider Oscar Sevilla, another veteran at 38, is the two-time defending champion.