The 2014 Vuelta a Espana winner, Chris Horner, will return to racing Sunday at the US National Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee.
In 2014, the American from Oregon became the oldest Grand Tour winner when he won the Vuelta at 41. After a year with Lampre has since ridden for domestic teams in the US. In the last two years, Horner has suffered from recurring lung problems that have affected his ability to race.
“The doctor originally thought it was a PFO in the heart, which is where a lot of blood jumps from the right side to the left side and bypasses the lungs, so it’s not getting oxygenated,” Horne said.
“So literally I’m on the trainer with the doctors there, and as soon as I hit 300 watts, the [blood oxygenation levels] would drop into the 80s, and as soon as I went over 300 it would drop down to the low 80s. The doctor said, ‘Oh yeah, you have a problem.’
“So I just spent six months trying to find the PFO leak, but we couldn’t find the leak. Finally, I just said, ‘Let’s just solve whatever this gunk is in my lungs, because we know that’s a problem.'”
“And so they ran a rod down the nose and into the throat. Every 10 seconds you swallow water and they see if it flushes back up. And what they were seeing was that everything I was swallowing was just flushing back up, going into the lungs and causing an infection.
“They started me on the stomach med Pantoprazole. It’s a medicated anti-acid reflux stuff that calms the stomach and the limits the fluids flushing into the lungs.”
“The first month of training was just a couple hours a day, because before that I was only doing 150 miles a week for the last two years since Lupus [Horner’s team in 2016 – ed]. So then I did one week of training at 250, one week at 275, one week at 300 and one week at 325, and I was feeling better and better,” he said.
“This last month I’ve been doing training like at 550 and coming back each day and wanting to train more. I wasn’t fatigued in the morning like I had been. For a year and half it was hard to get out of bed. I’d get out of bed and just be devastated. Once the doctor calmed the stomach down, now when I get out of bed in the morning, I’m like, ‘Let’s go train.'”