No Horner & Airgas Safeway for US Pro Cycling Challenge
Chris Horner, the Invisible Man.
Some people strongly believed that 43 year old Chris Horner should have retired on a high note after he won the Vuelta a Espana.
Despite the free advice and even stronger messages from the Cycling Gods (see death experience, Como, Italy, tunnel) he decided not to hang up his wheels.
He didn’t retire but he is getting very difficult to see. First, he was forced by economic circumstance, advanced age (and perhaps a doping rumor or two) to sign with Airgas-Safeway, a gloried development team.
Upshot: he most likely wasn’t going to be seen on the WorldTour stage.
Then he slipped further from view in May when the Tour of California, his biggest, most high profile target of the year decided Horner and his underpowered team didn’t merit an invite. Although he won the overall in Cali back in 2011, he was persona non grata and non-starter. Horner shocked, team outraged, Safeway sponsor and large California corporation, bewildered.
Racing the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China or the Reading 120 in Pennsylvania just doesn’t have the same media bang. Nice events, but largely off radar except for the locals. Television coverage, probably near zero.
Still the team held out hope for the Tour of Utah — where Horner had finished second the last two years) and the bigger spotlight, the US Pro Cycling Challenge.
The team got the call for Utah but not for Colorado. While squads like Budget Forklifts from Australia and Jelly Belly and Novo Nordisk both based in the USA, got their invites, Horner is once again not available for viewing.
Perhaps the shocker is that even the Israel Cycling Academy, a brand new Continental team “Powered by Peter Sagan” received an entry. Yes, you might see Yoav Bear, Guy Savig and Ben Einhorn but not one of the most famous American pro cyclists of our time.
Check the Airgas-Safeway website today and the US Pro Cycling Challenge is still marked on their race schedule with an asterisk “We hope to be invited.” Well, no, sorry, you can scrub that off the site.
You can generate a few good reasons why Horner and his merry band of kids didn’t make the cut. Perhaps one good one comes straight from US Pro Cycling Challenge CEO Shaun Hunter: “We are definitely seeing a changing of the guards in the international level cycling and it’s exhilarating to see it first hand on the roads of Colorado.”
Yes, we’re going to see plenty of new talent on those roads. We won’t be seeing Chris Horner because that’s just not possible: he’s the Invisible Man.