>For Horner, the Olympic berth comes after years of coming up just short.
“There's been many years where I've been on the bubble of going and then didn't make the selection — we're talking from 1996,” he said.
But no longer, as Horner will take to the start line on The Mall in London on July 28 for the 250-kilometer (roughly 155 miles) Olympic road race, which he said presents some “question marks” in terms of tactics. Rather than teams of eight or nine, which are typical sizes for many pro races, nations can send at most five cyclists to compete in the Olympic road race.
“The countries with sprinters don't have that same kind of power that we would normally have when you go to the world championships, where you can have nine and 12 guys,” Horner noted.
Not only are the teams smaller, but radios are not permitted at the Olympics, as they are during the pro tours.
“It changes the strategy quite a bit when you get rid of radios because we can't talk with each other as easily as we can when we have them,” explained Horner, who said that he prefers the use of radios.
Of course, despite the initial list omission, Horner still hopes he will be coming off the Tour de France — which starts June 30 in Belgium and concludes July 22 in Paris — when he makes his Olympic debut.
Horner said he knew he might be left off that preliminary list — which includes the pool of riders from which the team's final tour roster is selected — after not making an appearance at this month's Tour de Suisse. But he chalked up his omission to a “communication breakdown” between himself and RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel.
“We just weren't communicating, and for me, I just assumed that I'd be on the 14-rider list, and then between the time that they picked the 14-rider list and the time that he picks the nine-rider list that we've communicated more,” Horner explained. “I didn't really worry about it, and it wasn't until I saw the list where I was like, 'Oh, whoa, wait a minute. I've got to make some phone calls.' ”
Horner felt those talks with Bruyneel were successful and that he is back in contention for a tour roster spot. The announcement of RadioShack's nine-rider roster for the Tour de France should be announced shortly — Horner said that he thought it would be today.
“The form is good, and (Bruyneel) knows the training that I've been doing now and how hard I've been working to ... make the tour team and stuff, and I'm not just over here on vacation and hanging out in San Diego at the beach,” said Horner, who tweeted on June 10 that he had put in 600 miles in a single week of training.
Horner returned to racing this year after a shortened 2011 season, during which he crashed in the seventh stage of the Tour de France and withdrew from the race with a concussion. Not long after, Horner developed a blood clot in his right lung that resulted in a trip to St. Charles Bend and the use of blood-thinning medications for six months. Horner described his racing results thus far in 2012 as “solid ... they could be better, but solid.” In March, he finished second in the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in Italy, and a poor time trial was all that stood between him and a better finish in the Tour of California.
But whether or not another Tour de France is in his immediate future, the Olympic Games definitely are.
Said Horner of the Olympics: “I think just the whole experience in general is just going to be really fun. I mean, it's always something that you want to be part of.”