2011 Amgen Tour of California champion Chris Horner will not be able to take the start in Escondido on May 12th. Horner still suffers from his knee problem. Pain and lack of condition make it impossible to compete at the highest level.
Chris Horner suffers from an iliotibial band friction syndrome since the end of Tirreno-Adriatico. The pain forced him to abandon in the Tour of Catalunya and made it impossible for him to start in the Tour of the Basque Country. Despite many treatments Horner still has pain at the outside of his left knee.
“So far the doctors have been optimistic about my knee problem, but as soon as I started training, the pain came back,” explains Chris Horner. “The last time that I was on the bike for more than four hours was in Catalunya. There is no way I can race now. All of my condition is gone. After Catalunya I was off the bike for four weeks.”
This week Horner will visit a specialist in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It is possible I have an alignment problem. We will examine all possibilities. I want to race again. All of the doctors I have visited are optimistic that it will heal again, but it just needs time. The problem is that nobody is able to tell me how much time I need. This is not a collar bone fracture-like injury, where you can say exactly how much time you need to recover. My injury is more difficult. I can ride my bike but after two hours the pain returns.”
“This is such bad news for me,” continued Horner. “As the 2011 winner of this race I want to be there. Moreover, I live in San Diego, just 20 minutes from the team hotel. I will visit the team, but it will be with mixed feelings. It all hurts as I was so good in the early season. In Tirreno-Adriatico I was as good as the best riders in the world.”
With the withdrawal of Chris, RADIOSHACK LEOPARD TREK loses its leader for the Amgen Tour of California. “With former US Champion Matthew Busche we have a good alternative,” explains Team Director Alain Gallopin. “Matthew was impressive the last two years in this race, and he is ready again. We will try to get him on the podium. Furthermore I am convinced we will see something from Andy Schleck. He continues his comeback and is motivated and ready to show something. Haimar Zubeldia, sixth in last year’s Tour de France, will also be in the front the coming week and with riders like Bob Jungels we can try to win a stage. If Peter Sagan will give us that opportunity…,” Gallopin concluded with a smile.
For Chris Horner it is impossible to predict when he will be able to race again. “My best guess is the Tour de Suisse,” concludes Horner. “And then hopefully the Tour de France. The season is not over yet, there are still good races left, but this situation is heartbreaking for me.”
The team line-up for the Amgen Tour of California (USA), May 12-19, UCI 2.HC
Riders: Matthew Busche, Laurent Didier, Markel Irizar, Bob Jungels, Ben King, Andy Schleck, Jens Voigt & Haimar Zubeldia
Directors: Alain Gallopin & Kim Andersen
Photo © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com