Livin' the Dream

Livin' the Dream

About Me

I am a sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, majoring in journalism. My passion is cycling. I am a category 4 bike racer and my absolute dream would be to turn pro one day. My more realistic goal is to become a journalist for the sport of cycling and eventually move on to become a broadcaster for the sport.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Commentary: Chris Horner is Good for Airgas-Safeway and North American Racing

            Last week the young U.S. based continental squad Airgas-Safeway signed Chris Horner to a one-year contract. This signing dramatically changed the outlook of the 2015 North America racing season. Chris Horner is the 2013 Vuelta a Espana champion and oldest person to ever win a Grand Tour. Horner is not ready to hang up his wheels yet and since there was no place for him on a ProTour team, he chose to sign with a “small” US continental squad. This is not about whether Horner doped or not (many assumed he is rider #15 on the USADA Reasoned Decision), but how he is going to grow American cycling whether you like him or not.


The Team

            Airgas-Safeway shocked the cycling world when they announced on November 18th that grocery store giant Safeway was becoming a co-name sponsor for the 2015 season. This is the first time in a while that a big name US brand has chosen to enter the cycling industry. After the Armstrong confession many jumped shipped, but with Safeway coming on, the sport seems to be on the rise again. And, a mere nineteen days after this announcement, the team signed Chris Horner to a contract. Coincidence? Perhaps not. Without Safeway on board Airgas-Safeway would not have the budget to sign Horner. Now they do and they have signed the Grand Tour champion. Was it a coincidence or not?

            The Airgas-Safeway team is made up of mostly U23 riders. They are in essence a development team. Horner is coming off a year in which he raced the Tour de France and next year will be racing with cyclists who are still dreaming  of racing the Tour. Horner will be able to pass on his 10+ years of knowledge from racing at the top level and give it to riders who’s goal is to reach that level. Horner will be able to coach these guys from inside of the peloton. He’s a great asset to have when working with young, energetic, and ambitious riders.

Opportunities

            By signing Horner the team has now all but guaranteed themselves entré into the Big 3 American races: the Amgen tour of California (ATOC), the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (LHMTOU), and the US Pro Cycling Challenge (USPCC).. Airgas-Safeway was on the outside looking when it came to getting an invitation to these races, now the riders can build for a season in which they know they will have a shot to compete with the best.

Horner Will Not Dominate

            Chris Horner will not dominate the National Racing Calendar (NRC) this year. The competition in North American racing has grown tremendously the last couple of years with emergence of development and continental teams alike stepping up their games. Look at Team SmartStop Pro Cycling. They went from being left out of ATOC to going 1-2 at the US Pro Championships. Let’s face it, Chris Horner is old. At 43 years old, Horner is waaaay past his prime, but he can still perform at a high level, he just will not dominate the NRC. You know why? Because every single rider in the continental level will be stepping up their game this season. Who wants to be embarrassed by a 43 year old? Nobody. By Horner just racing the NRC he is stepping up the game of everyone around him.

Most riders Horner’s age have already retired and would never “slump” down to the continental racing level after racing the past decade at the Pro Tour level.  But, perhaps they are wrong. Horner is still racing because clearly he has a deep passion for bike racing. So, Chris Horner, thank you for not hanging up the wheels yet because American cycling is taking steps forward in the coming 2015 season and are going to be a big part of that. We look forward to watching you.


1 comment :

  1. 2015 is shaping up for a very good year on the domestic circuit

    ReplyDelete