Good ol’ Chris Horner. And amazing candor from Nibali.
The 41-year-old Horner ripped the legs off race leader Vincenzo Nibali Astana, attacking on the steepest ramps of 20 percent on the 5.5km final climb up Peña Cabarga on stage 18, trimming Nibali’s lead to the slenderest of margins, pulling within three seconds.
“I had amazing legs today. I told the team today I could take the jersey, but I was just three seconds off,” Horner said at the top of the mountain. “If I can get a gap tomorrow, maybe I can get the red jersey. I was confident all day. I was never in the red, always pedaling easy. It was a big day.”
Horner confirmed yet again he is the best climber in this Vuelta. Just as he’s demonstrated every time the road has gone up, Horner has been able to put his rivals into trouble. He came up just three seconds from taking the red leader’s jersey, but Horner knows that momentum is in his corner.“Maybe it’s better if I don’t have the red. I just have to go deep on Saturday,” Horner continued. “The most important thing is that I made up a lot of time. The gap is smaller.”
After losing time to Horner for the second consecutive summit finish, Nibali all but threw in the towel.“Horner demonstrated again that he is a level above all of us in the climbs,” Nibali said. “The rhythm he was setting up the climb was too hard for me, so I tried to limit the damage. With tomorrow and Saturday for Anglirú, Horner is set up to win this Vuelta.”