A Phone Conversation with the 'Homeless' Chris Horner

News & Results

07/4/2005| 0 comments
by Tommy W. Murphy
Chris Horner. Photo copyright Roadcycling.com.
Chris Horner. Photo copyright Roadcycling.com.

A Phone Conversation with the 'Homeless' Chris Horner

Tommy Murphy talks to Chris Horner about racing in Europe and the 2005 Tour de France.

Chris Horner facts:

Age: 33
Date of Birth:
October 23, 1971

Height: 1.72 mts

Weight: 65 kg
Resides: Homeless (
Europe, USA)
Turned Professional: 1996

2005 Team: Saunier Duval - Prodir

Team Website: www.saunierduvalteam.com

Previous Teams:

2004 (Webcor Cycling Team), 2003 (Saturn Cycling Team), 2002 (Prime Alliance Cycling Team), 2001 (Mercury / Viatel), 2000 (Mercury), 1999-97 (La Francaise des Jeux), 1996 (Nutra Fig), 1995 (Individual).



RoadCycling: Hello, this is Tom.


Chris Horner: Hey Tom, it?s Chris.


RC: Hi Chris, I wasn?t expecting you. I was just finishing mowing the lawn here. What time is it over there?


CH: It?s about midnight. Hold on....  ....Sorry about that, Inigo [Cuesta] was just saying goodnight.


RC: Is he your roommate?


CH: Yea, I?ve been staying with him at a hotel here in Spain before we leave for France.


RC: So how are you doing?


CH: I?m doing good, thanks.


RC: How does it feel to be back in Europe racing?


CH: It?s great, but man, it?s tough.


RC: How do you mean?


CH: There are just so many distractions over here compared to the states. It?s just a lot harder here.


RC: What kind of distractions?


CH: No home, no car, no family, no friends, the language barriers?.


RC: No home???


CH: Yea, I?m homeless. I sold my home in California when I moved over here. I had planned on getting a place here in Spain but everything changed after my wreck at Tirreno - Adriatico in March. After a week of still not being able to walk on my leg I decided to fly back to California to have my leg re-examined. The x-rays taken after Tirreno didn?t show anything, but once I had an MRI done in the states we found a small fracture. With that I found myself back in the states without a home.


RC: What did you do? Did you head back to Bend (Oregon)?


CH: I bounced around between family and friends but spent most of my time living in Sacramento with the Klasna?s (Trent & Tracy). I pulled my 27 footer (trailer) down there and parked it in front of their house.


RC: (Laughing!) ? I?m picturing a Cousin Eddie moment here.



CH: Yea, his neighbors probably loved us.


RC: That?s classic! So, how are your kids doing? How old are they now?


CH: They?re doing great. They?re seven, five and three now.


RC: Wow, they?re getting big.


CH: Yea, they are. They?re always changing.


RC: How long has it been since you?ve seen them?


CH: About three months now.


RC: That sucks!


CH: Yea, it does. It?s hard being away from them so much.


RC: I can understand that. So how?s the whole language thing? Does the team have a translator?


CH: No, I basically just have to figure everything out for myself.


RC: I bet that?s tough.


CH: Yea, the team is primarily Spanish and Italian and I speak neither.


RC: Have you been working on the different languages?


CH: When I first got here I picked up a Spanish dictionary, so I can understand some Spanish now but no Italian. I actually use French the most. That?s my best language.


RC: I?m guessing that?s from your days riding with Francaise des Jeux?


CH: Yea.



RC: Congratulations on your 5th place finish and stage win at the Tour de Suisse.


CH: Thanks!


RC: How do you feel about your performance there?


CH: It was great! I was hoping for a stage win or a possible top 10 on GC, and I was able to get both. It was awesome!


RC: What did you think of the competition? There were a lot of big names there.


CH: It?s tough over here. I don?t know the riders like I do in the states, so I don?t know who?s who. Of course I can pick out Ullrich and those guys, but most of these guys I have no idea who they are and what they are capable of.


RC: Was that the problem with Nibali (Fassa Bortolo) on Stage 6?


CH: Yea, I had no clue who he was or what he could do. It?s tough because the peloton is so strong here, and the racing is so much different then in the states. You know these guys aren?t weak, so you never know if they?re just holding back or if they really are struggling. It?s not like the riders in the U.S. where I know who they are and what they?re capable of. It?s a crap shoot here for me.


RC: So what did you think of the performances of the so called ?Tour Favorites? at the Tour de Suisse?


CH: Ullrich was amazing! He was so strong in those first two days. We all thought he was going to win but then he just kind of disappeared. I?m not sure what happened. I know he was sick on the last stage, so I?m not sure if he picked up a bug somewhere in the race or what was going on, but he was flying those first two days. Rogers was just killing it as well. He was riding so good and was always there pushing it and attacking.



RC: What about Mayo and Beloki?


CH: You know, I couldn?t even tell you who they were in the pack let alone what they were doing. I just don?t know these guys. When Aitor [Gonzalez] attacked on that last day I didn?t even know it was Aitor up the road. By the time Guerini pulled us back up to Rogers and Schleck, he [Aitor] was already gone. I think the only time I?ve seen Aitor was when he was on the cover of VeloNews when he won the Vuelta a few years ago.


RC: How is your race communication with your team? You barely hear half the stuff on those radios as it is, so I imagine it doesn?t help when your director and teammates are going off in Spanish or Italian. 


CH: It makes it really hard! Usually our team director will use French when communicating with me, but as you know, it can be a mess when there?s a lot going on. In the last stage of the Tour de Suisse, I didn?t realize it was Gonzalez up the road. If had known I would have tried to reduce the gap more on the climb as I was holding back. I figured we would catch him on the descent as we had something like 20km still to go to the finish and 5 of us to work together. In the end, it was only like two and half of us working.....We should have caught him!


RC: Yea, that surprised me too. Congratulations on your Tour selection!


CH: Thanks!


RC: What do you think about this year?s Tour de France?


CH: I?m really excited. This will be my first Tour if I can get there, ?knock on wood?.


RC: What do you mean?


CH: Well, I?ve actually been selected to do the Tour a couple of times with both Francaise des Jeux and Mercury, but I just haven?t been able to get there. I broke my wrist in the weeks prior to the Tour when I was with Francaise des Jeux, and well, you know the whole story with Mercury. This year my number one goal is to just get to the start.


RC: We?re all crossing our fingers for you Chris.


CH: Thanks. I?m really excited.


RC: Looking at the team, it?s pretty clear there?s no clear cut team leader? What role do you see yourself playing at the Tour?


CH: Right now we have a few different guys who can mix it up for both stage wins and high overall placings. We have Garate who?s doing the double this year and finished 5th overall at the Giro. Zaballa is going really well right now and of course Leo [Leonardo Piepoli]. He?ll be looking for a strong finish and will be a man to watch in the mountains. We?ll basically wait to see what happens in those first mountain stages especially the first mountain top finish on Courchevel, then work around our leaders at that point.


RC: How do you feel about the team?s chances in the Team Time Trial?


CH: I really don?t know what to expect, but we have strong guys. It?ll definitely be a learning experience for me. Something new.


RC: I was a little surprised of your time trial performance at the Tour de Suisse? How are feeling about your time trialing?


CH: My TT was terrible! I?m not sure what happened that day. As you know, I?m better then that, but it certainly put a scare into my team thinking that I can?t time trial. I?m not a time trial specialist like Zabriskie or Baldwin, but I can certainly hold my own. I?m usually no less then top ten in the U.S. but usually in the top five. I was suffering from jet lag and just didn?t feel at my best that day. Everyone has a bad TT now and then, and I hope that was mine for the year. As the Tour de Suisse continued I just got stronger and stronger, so my form now in comparison to the start of Suisse is night and day. I?m really coming into great form for the Tour. I really lost a lot of training due to my leg, so at Philly and even just a few weeks ago, I had no top end. I was just a diesel. I?m just now finding that kick again.


RC: Have you had the chance to recon any of the Tour de France stages?


CH: I haven?t. I?ll just be following wheels.


RC: Have you altered your training in any way in preparation for the Tour?


CH: I basically recovered after Suisse and have just kicked the training back up again before the start of the Tour. The biggest thing lately has been my diet. Our team trainer was teasing me at Tirreno about being heavy, and as you know, I?m far from heavy, but I have made some adjustments and have lost a kilo or two. I could really feel the difference in the mountains in Switzerland, so I?m feeling really good about my climbing right now.


RC: So what adjustments did you make to your diet?


CH: Basically just cut out the snacks and soda. It?s really hard here in Europe because everything is so different. Everything is later. We ride later, we eat later, we go to bed later, so I?ve just been more disciplined and haven?t been snacking as much until dinner. A lot of the time we won?t eat until 9pm, but we get back from our rides around two or three o?clock so it?s a long time until dinner.


RC: Do you monitor your calorie intake from day to day?


CH: No. I just make sure I eat balanced. The biggest thing was the eating after the bike. I?ve just been watching that more closely. There?s a fine line to all of this because if you cut too many calories you don?t recover as well and your whole training is affected. You?ll go out the next day and you?ll just be tired, so you have to be careful to eat enough to maintain effective training, but not to over eat, so you can still lose that little bit.


RC: What kind of approach do you take towards supplements? I know there?s a broad range in discipline with elite cyclists when it comes to nutrition and supplements. Some are pretty relaxed about it all while others are obsessive. How do you look at it all?


CH: I?m pretty laid back with all of this. I really don?t get into all of the vitamins and supplements like others. I mean you?ll see these guys with their fishing boxes of supplements.


RC: Fishing boxes???


CH: Yea, it?s crazy!


RC: So what do you prefer on the bike? Anything special?


CH: Again, I?m not too picky. I usually take one water bottle and one bottle of our team?s drinks. I really like all of the bars and gels. Those work really well for me.



RC: So what do you think of your new Scott team bike in comparison to some of your previous team bikes?


CH: It?s an incredible bike. It?s light, stiff, and handles really well.


RC: How do you compare it to your old Webcor Lemond or even the Felts you?ve been on in the past?


CH: The Lemond is a really nice bike and I liked my Felts but the Scott just has the complete package in a super light bike that is still stiff and responsive. Most superlight bikes get soft and don?t handle as well, but the Scott is solid. It?s the best team bike that I?ve been on.


RC: As everyone knows, the Tour has become the marketing arena for companies to showcase their new latest and greatest masterpieces. Does Scott or any of your equipment suppliers have anything new that they will be rolling out for the Tour?


CH: There was some talk about new TT bikes, but I?m not sure if we?re going to get those or not. If we do it will be a surprise.


RC: Kind of like your last minute Lemond TT bike at the Tour of Georgia two years ago?


CH: (Chuckles?)


RC: Are you going to have any family with you during the Tour de France?


CH: Probably not, but you never know who may show up.


RC: So you may see your Cousin Eddie?


CH: Yea, there will be plenty of them on the side of the road.


RC: Thanks for the call Chris. It was great talking to you. Have a good night and good luck in France.


CH: Thanks.



Chris Horner - Career Highlights:



1st, Stage 6, Tour de Suisse
2nd, Mountains classification, Tour de Suisse
5th, GC, Tour de Suisse
5th, Points Competition, Tour de Suisse
5th, Stage 9, Tour de Suisse


1st, GC, Sea Otter Classic
1st, GC, Redlands Bicycle Classic
1st, Stage 2, Sea Otter Classic
1st, Prologue, Redlands Bicycle Classic
1st, Stage 1, Redlands Bicycle Classic
1st, Stage 2, Redlands Bicycle Classic
3rd, GC, Tour of Georgia
3rd, Stage 4, Tour of Georgia
8th, World road championships
11th, Giro di Lombardia


1st, GC, Tour Of Georgia
1st, San Francisco GP
2nd, USPRO Criterium Championship
2nd, Stage 4, Tour of Georgia
3rd, GC, Sea Otter Classic
3rd, Stage 2, Sea Otter Classic


2nd, USPRO Championship, ITT


1st, Stage 5, Redlands Classic
2nd, GC, Redlands Classic
2nd, Stage 1, Sea Otter Classic
3rd, Stage 3, Redlands Classic


1st, GC, Tour Of Langkawi
1st, GC, Redlands Classic
3rd, Stage 3, Criterium International
3rd, Stage 6, Tour de Langkawi
8th, GC, Criterium International


4th, GC, Tour Trans Canada


9th, Grand Prix des Nations


3rd, Grand Prix Ouest France 3rd, Thrift Drug Classic


1st, Corestates Hamilton Classic
1st, Stage 10, Tour Dupont
3rd, First Union Grand Prix
4th, US Championship
4th, Corestates NJNB Classic

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