SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego man might have the best chance of any U.S. cyclist to win the Tour de France, all because he lives and train in his hometown.
“Here in San Diego, training is fantastic,” Chris Horner said from his Tierrasanta home. “With the weather and then you throw in the roads where you have flat roads, mountain roads, great, quiet country roads.”
All those roads provide the perfect mix for the former Serra High School graduate as he primes his legs to race in cycling's Super Bowl which starts July 2. Horner rides for the Radio Shack team along with fellow American Levi Leipheimer, either could be the lead rider for the team at the Tour de France.
“Last year, I finished 10th at the Tour De France and I was the highest guy on the Radio Shack and the highest American Rider in the Tour De France too,” Horner said. “So I got a lot of freedom to go in there and be, or make myself, the leader."
He earned that freedom not only with last year's finish, but with his victory last month in the Tour of California, the biggest road race in the United States. Horner beat Leipheimer by 38 seconds.
“For me, it's my backyard so to win the Tour of California is fantastic,” Horner said.
Horner said he got into riding by accident, after he won a bike in a contest when he was 13-years-old.
He started riding, and then racing, and feels his strength is his ability to climb, which he showed during the Tour of California when he won Stage 4 to take the overall lead.
He also showed that at the age of 39, he's just now shifting into high gear.
“I'm in the best form of my career,” Horner said. “I'm riding just unbelievably fantastic from each race and recovering well so these are the best years I've had on the bike ever.”
Which brings us to the question of how? Some might suspect performance enhancing drugs, after all, cycling’s biggest name Lance Armstrong has had several accusers come forward.
Horner said he has never tested positive and he believes that the sport has started to clean up its act.
“There's a drug problem in sports, absolutely,” Horner said. “Not to what it used to be, I don't believe. I've seen the sport change a lot and change for the good. It's a problem that exists in all parts of the world of people trying to get a leg up on everybody and sports is no different than the guy on Wall Street that has an inside connection. So it always exists.”
As for his thoughts on Armstrong, Horner said, “I know him as being a fantastic athlete. He's always been one of the best athletes.”