Daniel McMahon / Yuzuru Sunada
“I got a lot of faith in the team right now,” Horner says, “and they’ve got 100% faith in me. From the time of the accident to the time I arrived at the hospital, I had the team doctor and soigneur and others looking after me around the clock. They got to the emergency room before I even got there.”
Is defending the Vuelta title still the biggest goal?
“Yes, absolutely. I don’t think my accident will have an effect on the Vuelta this year. I’m not worried about it. The immediate thing is I’d like to get back to racing as soon as I can. If I can get back to the Tour, good. If I can get back to some racing before that it’d be even better. I’m already set to do Utah and the Vuelta, which is clearly far enough out that there would be no issue there. And actually my sense sitting on the phone with you right now is that I should be able to ride in the Tour de France 100%.”
As for next year, Horner says he hasn’t given it much thought. “You have to ride good in order to renew your contract. That’s basic knowledge. Clearly I’ve enjoyed the time with the team, and the team has treated me very well, so it’s a nice place to stay and a nice place to renew. I can’t speak for the team at this point, and of course just five weeks ago I was sitting in the emergency room. Right now it’s more about getting back to bike racing than worrying about what’s going on next year.
“I’d like to keep racing my bike. Of course you need to know you have the results. I just need to go into the next races and ride well and work out contract details later.”
If Horner is known for anything it’s his tactical nous and racecraft. Many say no one reads a race quite like him. And while Horner’s accident in a dark tunnel has proved to be a considerable setback, his greatest challenge looks like it’s still to come: climbing back to the top of pro cycling.