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SAN VINCENZO, Italy (VN) — Chris Horner was surprised that Tirreno-Adriatico race organizers failed to invite him to Tuesday’s “top riders” pre-race press conference. RCS Sport called in 13 of cycling’s stars, but left the Vuelta a España winner off the guest list.
“I don’t ever get invited to the press conferences, so it’s nothing new,” Horner told VeloNews. “Maybe it’s because I’ve only won one grand tour. I guess you have to win five. I was just as surprised as you, but that’s happened my whole career, so it is what it is.”
The 42-year-old arrived in San Vincenzo, Italy, early ahead of his first UCI WorldTour start with Lampre-Merida and said that he was available yesterday. He added, “I could’ve shown up if someone asked me.”
Amgen Tour of California organizers failed to invite Horner to the pre-race meeting with the press for its 2011 race. Horner, perhaps underlining his value, went on to win the overall that year.
RCS Sport, the company behind Tirreno and the Giro d’Italia, among other major Italian events, knows Horner well. He led the weeklong race for three days in 2012 and placed second overall to home star Vincenzo Nibali. Last year, the he placed sixth overall.
Horner won the Vuelta in September, becoming the oldest rider to win a grand tour.
“And I just finished [the Volta ao] Algarve eighth overall while working for my teammate,” said Horner. “They never invite me, though.”
RCS Sport press officer Stefano Diciatteo said that the race simply had too many stars. Organizers crammed six riders into a first session and seven into the second at the small hall in Bolgheri. Among the riders on-hand were Tour de France winners Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador, and sprinters Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel. Also there were the Giro’s 2013 runner-up Rigoberto Urán and 2013 Paris-Nice winner Richie Porte.
To be fair, RCS Sport also left out Michele Scarponi (Astana) and Ivan Basso (Cannondale) — both Italian riders and winners of the Giro.
Horner’s Lampre team rode to 15th place, at 53 seconds back, in the opening time trial Wednesday in San Vincenzo. However, Horner could strike and make a claim on the overall victory this weekend when the race tackles its two mountains stages. On Saturday, the race climbs to 5,000 feet for the finish at the Selvarotonda ski resort.
“The team time trial really decides the race a lot,” Horner said. “The year I was second we went second on the team time trial, too, but I was ahead of all the favorites on the climbs, so it was simple. I had the best legs in the race for the climbing stages. Of course, Nibali’s legs were better all around.
“The team time trial will decide the tactics we’ll play. Clearly, like last year, we have a Tour de France field here. It’s a quality field. You have the best ones in the world here. It’s going to make it fun and exciting. I hope to win something here.”
Horner explained that Tirreno-Adriatico, which finishes next Tuesday on Italy’s Adriatic coast, is “not ideal” for him.
“I’ve come close to winning it before, so clearly I can, but it’s not the best race for me because of all the time trials and just a small climb,” he said. “Clearly, the Volta a Catalunya is ideal for me and the Tour of the Basque Country (Vuelta al País Vasco) is beautiful for me too. But I have form here, so if I can get results, then great.”
The American said that Tuesday’s press conference snub wouldn’t fuel his ride in the “Race of the Two Seas.”
“I’d be racing every race 100 percent if I did that,” he said.