The first thing Chris Horner did after finishing the cold, wet, miserable stage 17 ride up Tourmalet, where he finished an impressive 8th place, was get off his bike and cough for two minutes straight. Tourmalet induced emphysema.
He stripped off the top of his bib shorts, slumped down, an old man looking for a wheel chair, needing help for a towel and a clean dry jersey. The same was true for teammate Andreas Kloden who arrived minutes later, coughing, drained to the core, barely able to speak, low on basic motor skills.
A grand tour is all about recovery and one of the most impressive things is how fast that recovery occurs. In ten minutes I witnessed the Return of Chris Horner.
Almost immediately after he arrived, the media descended with microphones and the crack cocaine need for explanation. Imagine you’d just crawled up Tourmalet and a bunch of hyper people shoved cameras and microphones in your face, jabbering their questions.
In the time I was there, Horner did at minimum six interviews back to back, Versus, Bicycling Magazine, Velonews and more. The longer it went on, the more he recovered, his humor coming back even faster than his legs and lungs and heart.
“The bottom hurts but nothing hurts like the top. That was inhuman, : said Horner. “That’s what the Tour is all about: exploding the field and really pushing riders to their limit to see what they can do both physically and mentally.”
At age 38 Horner rode his way into the top ten of the Tour de France on one of the toughest editions ever. A hat store full of chapeaux, my friend. Well done.