Today up in Oregon somewhere around Bend, the oldest, best stage racer in the world is celebrating his 40th birthday. Cheers for Chris Horner, the old man diesel who will hopefully head back to the France this year to help Andy Schleck win the Tour.
Other than Jens Voigt — himself 40 years old — you’d be hard pressed to find a more well-liked and respected rider in the peloton. You’d also find it near impossible to find anyone more funny and quotable.
As a cycling journalist at the Tour de France and Tour of California, if you needed a funny line to bring your story to life, you could always count on Horner. A pleasure to interview and unafraid to speak his mind.
It’s truly a shame more riders don’t share his attitude about the press — they’re wary, careful in what they say, speak in cliches and generalities and often have little to say period.
Big star riders can be difficult when it comes to scheduling interviews. But in our experience, Horner is just the opposite — when I needed some in-depth stuff about his win in the Tour of California, I got 30 minutes with him on the phone. When I was hunting for good material for a story about the Basque cycling fans, it only took one email to set up an interview. He’s always in a good mood and happy to chat.
That’s what makes Horner golden in our book. Happy birthday, you grizzled old stage racer! (Coincidently enough, Levi Leipheimer turns 38 tomorrow. )