Bike racing is a great sport, but it’s also really tough. Most professionals end their racing careers aged between 32–36 years old. Though there are exceptions to that rule — some riders continue until they are 40. And then you have the fanatics who just don’t seem to know how to stop. Chris Horner is prime example of this latter variety.
The American cyclist is now 47 years old. Despite officially announcing his retirement in 2014, Horner made a comeback in 2018 to ride for a small outfit, called Team Illuminate, after he had battled a bronchial infection. At first, Horner’s return seemed a one-season finale, but now he’s signed up for another year in 2019! His US-based squad is small, so we are unlikely to see him racing, but it’s still pretty incredible that the guy cannot stop riding his bike for a living.
Winner of the Tour of Spain
Chris Horner reached the highest point in his career in 2013. He was riding for Team RadioShack at the time and had begun the season with an injury, meaning that he missed out on a large chunk of racing. However, he was back in time to compete in the Vuelta à España (Tour of Spain). Literally nobody saw him as a threat to the general classification, considering his palmares and age. But then he won the third stage and put on the leader’s red jersey. He lost the jersey after that, but thereafter went on to win the 10th stage and get it back again. Fending off the attacks of Vincenzo Nibali, he won the event outright. At the ripe old age of 41 Horner entered the history books as the oldest-ever winner of a Grand Tour.
Chris Horner winning the 10th stage in the Vuelta 2013. Photo: Cor Vos
This was without a doubt the high point of Horner’s long career. He began the profession of bike racing in 1995, and over the years has ridden for Francaise des Jeux, Saunier Duval, Astana, RadioShack and Lampre–Merida. Apart from his Spanish victory, Horner was still a very good rider. His European race record includes top-ten positions in Paris–Nice, Tirreno–Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya, the Tour of the Basque country (which he also won in 2012), the Tour of Romandie, Criterium de Dauphine and the Tour of Switzerland.
Form in the USA
Horner always races well in his home country. He has ridden excellent results in the Tour of California (which he won in 2011), the Tour of Utah and a long list of races that used to feature on the US national racing calendar.
Chris Horner with Levi Leipheimer in the Tour of California 2011. Photo: Cor Vos
So there are a number of good reasons why he can enjoy his pension and look back on a great term of service. But instead of doing that, he’s decided to get back on his bike and ride again with the professional peloton.