Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chris Horner Post

Tour of California Stage 4 - Crazy Start, Crazy Finish
Posted by Chris Horner, Special to the Oregonian

February 18, 2009 18:17PM

Everyone was VERY excited to wake up to our first day of sunshine in the Tour of California! But I think every team meeting, aside from ours, had the same instructions - get into the break. From mile one, the attacks began, and as Team Astana worked to cover every rider who could threaten our lead, it began to take a toll on our team, as well as the rest of the field.
Near the top of the first climb, Levi was down to only two teammates left with him at the front, Lance and Chechu. It was a dangerous time for the team. But the upside was that with such a hard start to the race, no one had any energy left to attack Levi at that point. So, luckily, we were able to get out of a tight situation without any damage.

As a four man break finally rolled away at the top of the first climb, the entire Astana Team reassembled at the front. We proceeded to set a steady tempo. Since Mancebo, one of the early leaders of the race and a threat to our overall lead was in the break, we worked to keep the lead group at a manageable distance. Mancebo made a deal with the other riders of the break to drop back to the field after grabbing the maximum mountain points on the first two climbs, to give the break a chance to make it to the finish. With Mancebo in the group, our team wouldn't have let the break get away, but once Mancebo came back to the field, the highest place rider in the break was over 14 minutes back, which meant that we could give the break a bigger gap. Our team and the rest of the field were very relieved to see Mancebo again, since it meant we could let up on the pace a bit and give everyone a little rest.

After we made it over the mountains, and past all of the crazy crashes, the sprinter teams took over the pace making at the front. They worked to bring back the break, and gave us a chance to rest in the field. Once again the crowds got to experience a Tour de France showdown, with Mark Cavendish battling Tom Boonen to the finish. Both have won multiple Tour de France stages, and are considered two of the top sprinters in the world. It was an amazing show!

Despite Levi's crash yesterday, he seemed to be unaffected today. However, I was not so lucky and was definitely a little worse for wear. I was covered in bandages to the point where clothes were almost unnecessary, and feeling pretty beat up. But I'm hoping that tomorrow's flat stage will give Team Astana, and myself, a little break from the work of defending, as the sprinter teams take over for the day to provide us all with a show. I could use a little more time to recover from hitting the deck! Of course, nothing has gone according to plan, so who knows how it will actually play out! But I can hope for the best!

Thanks for all of the great comments. I really appreciate all of the support and well wishes!
Thanks for reading - until tomorrow...

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.