Horner at Vuelta. Is the fade inevitable?

Horner working his magic in Spain.

Welcome back to Horner Central, Senior Smiler, the Energizer Bunny on a Trek bike.

Spanish media is getting all excited about old man Horner in this Vuelta a Espana. He’s in red on the rest day and by golly at almost 42 years of age, he could use a rest.

The Horner bandwagon is picking up speed as the feel- good, feel-young story of the Helta Skelta Vuelta. The question is, how long can he keep up his attacks?

The always wise and amusing Chris at Podium Cafe makes the obvious point that Horner has always been strong in the one week stage races. He’s won the Tour of California and the Basque Country but what can we expect for the second half of the Vuelta?

Vincenzo Nibali’s DS says the Italian came into the race at 70-75% so do we really think Horner is going to beat him when he hits 90-100% later this week? We expect Ivan Basso to fade and shouldn’t we expect the same of Horner who is even older?

Now Horner did a 9th on GC in the 2010 Tour de France but that was three years ago. As much as we’d like to surrender to the fantasy, we’re struggling to believe he can keep pumping out the high wattage in week three when they hit the Angliru.

Nevertheless, Horner has never been one to make shit up. When his legs are good, he tells the world and when he thinks he can win a race, he makes sure you get the quote. So if he’s saying he wants all the tapas, then we take him at his word.

He already has his RadioShack boys 100% behind the Underdog Vuelta Victory Show. It’s just a shame that three of his guys crashed on stage ten and the injury list doesn’t sound too positive. Zubeldia hurt his left arm and knee, Kišerlovski banged up his right shoulder and Matthew Busche is a mess with shoulder, hip and upper leg injuries. Horner just needs to rest; they need serious medical triage.

Perhaps a Vuelta overall win for Horner is just too much Don Quixote pipe dreaming. But we can imagine him on the podium, a massive and astounding performance in its own right.

Basso will fade, Rodriquez may feel his Tour de France in his legs in the final week and while we’re impressed with Nicholas Roche, he might have a bad day, too. That would pretty much allow the old geezer from Bend, Oregon to drag his arthritic body up on that third step below Nibali and Valverde.

Horner says he feels like he could “keep racing forever.” Well, how about just until September 15th, in Madrid?

 

 

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