For the first time in 10 years, an American is dominating La Vuelta, with Sepp Kuss doing so this year after Chris Horner became champion in 2013.
The American rider conquered the Spanish tour at the age of 41 to become the oldest rider to do so.
“It’s one of the great moments of my professional career, I remember it with great fondness”, he told MARCA from the United States, where he currently lives.
Chris Horner on the challenge of La Vuelta
Horner beat cyclists like Vincenzo Nibali, Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandre Valverde in that 2013 tour.
He cemented his success on the famous summit of the Angliru, where this Wednesday his compatriot Kuss will have to defend his lead.
“That day I felt a lot of strength,” he said.
“There were big rivals, but I felt fit and I was able to do it.
“The Angliru is one of the most special mountain passes.”
For the American, his victory was not a complete shock.
“Of course it was an eye-catcher, but I had won before in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and in other top races,” he pointed out.
“That year I felt very good and I was able to achieve one of the biggest successes of my career.”
Chris Horner’s story
The 51-year-old cyclist was born in Okinawa, Japan, because his parents worked in the US Navy, but he has almost always lived in Oregon.
In the United States, he continues with his new life. He works on a YouTube channel and is focused on his foundation, whose challenge is “to create a junior road cycling team that is inclusive, accessible to all socioeconomic statuses with the focus on developing a love of the sport of cycling that we hope will last a lifetime”.
He enjoys working alongside the young riders as part of this charitable work.
“The Horner Cycling Foundation addresses the growing need for a youth road cycling development programme in Central Oregon,” he explained.
“The goal is to get young cyclists excited about riding on the road and being part of a team.”
Happy for Kuss
In his role as an analyst on YouTube, Horner delivers the same messages about Kuss as he did speaking to MARCA.
“I think he can win La Vuelta,” Horner started, speaking about Kuss.
“When Remco Evenepoel stayed on the Aubisque there I thought Sepp could win this race.
“Jonas‘ tactics were perfect. In Jumbo they have everything to win this race and right now Kuss has enough distance to do it.”
The cyclist is enthusiastic about the role of his compatriot, although he recognises that in his country they are not completely enthusiastic.
“The United States is not like Spain, Belgium, Italy, France or Colombia where cycling is a religion,” he admitted.
“Those fans love the cyclists and follow them in every race in the world.
“The following is brutal, but in the United States it’s different.
“Here you turn on the TV and there’s tennis, Formula 1 or other sports.
“You also see cycling, but it’s not the second sport as it might be in the countries mentioned.
“People want Kuss to win, everyone loves him, but it’s really focused on the fans who like cycling.”
Horner, The ‘Burger King’
Horner was known to be a great consumer of hamburgers, snickers and Coca Cola during his time in the sport.
“Much of that is true and, in La Vuelta that I won, I ate 12 hamburgers in the days before the mountain stages,” he confirmed.
“They gave me strength and didn’t make me feel bad. I know this may sound a bit crazy now, but at the time they didn’t make me feel bad and I won the race as proof of that.”
Now, without hamburgers and measuring every gram of food, an American is close to repeating his success.
“Few things would make me happier,” Horner stated.