Recent Amgen Tour of California winner Chris Horner will not be starting the Tour de Suisse this weekend as a warm-up for the Tour de France, his RadioShack team announced Thursday.
The nine-day Swiss stage race, which starts Saturday, was originally on Horner’s schedule as final preparation for the Tour, but Horner requested to stay home in San Diego, California, and train instead.
After showing that he could arrive fit for California through training and diet rather than racing, team manager Johan Bruyneel granted Horner his wish.
“The team has faith that I can come into the race good,” Horner said. “It’s what I wanted, to rest more, to train good, to be home all that time and head straight over right before the Tour. I’m very happy. It’s what I wanted.”
It is unusual, but not unheard of, for a Tour GC rider to skip both the Criterium du Dauphiné and the Tour of Switzerland. Defending champion Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) passed on both races after winning a demanding Giro d’Italia, though the controversy-embattled Spaniard has not yet committed to racing the Tour. Last year’s Tour runner-up Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) will race Switzerland.
This year will mark the first time Horner has not raced either the Dauphiné or the Tour of Switzerland before racing the Tour.
“I always thought you had to do one or the other, and it was nice of the team to give me the option to stay home and go into (the Tour) fresh instead,” Horner said. “The main difference is that a lot of riders need the racing to get fit. I get fit from the training. I just need a day or two in the race to get fit.”
Horner attributed his success at the Tour of California, with its pair of summit finishes, to losing 10 pounds prior to the race, and said his biggest concern about spending most of June in Europe was controlling his diet in foreign countries.
“As soon as California ended, I was worried, and I wasn’t worried about racing, or training, it was the diet,” he said. “By staying home I’ve eliminated all the worries, I can focus on training, rest and diet, and I can go into the Tour with 100-percent fitness.”
He added that he has more or less remained on his diet since California ended, and resumed hard training this week.
“I had a nice little break after California, some easy training, and I’m just starting to ramp it back up,” he said. “I stayed on diet the whole time, I had one day off the diet (Wednesday), which was real nice. After California I wasn’t training much, so it was important to stay on the diet. (Thursday) was my first real good day of training, five-and-a-half hours, and I’m impressed with the (power) numbers. I’m ahead of where I needed to be. I thought it would take another 10 days to see numbers like that.”
RadioShack is taking four GC riders to this year’s Tour — Horner, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden and Jani Brajkovic. Leipheimer and Klöden will race in Switzerland.
After four stages and a prologue, Brajkovic sat third overall at the Dauphiné, which he won in 2010.
RadioShack for Tour de Suisse: Philip Deignan, Robbie Hunter, Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer, Robbie McEwen, Dmitriy Muravyev, Nelson Oliveira and Gregory Rast
Stages for the Tour of Switzerland