For most that title is cryptic. Chris Horner, the best American cyclist you’ve never heard of, is set to become the winner of the Vuelta Espana, the best 21 day stage race you’ve never heard of. He’s the oldest winner of a grand tour (Giro Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta Espana) in history. The 20th stage today is one of the best stages ever contested, with Horner and rival Vincenzo Nibali separated by 3 seconds after 19 days, heading into a stage with one of the hardest hilltop finishes ever.
Horner rode for small teams in my neighborhood years ago, and was widely cited not just as a good cyclist, but a great tactician and all around good guy. He is rumored to be the classic junk food jock, requesting Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs in his feed bags during races.
With this victory, and with the elimination of all grand tour wins by drug addicts Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis, Horner becomes the first American to win a grand tour since Greg Lemond in the ’80s.
Let’s hope this one stands the test of time, meaning the test of the urine cup.