Pro bike: Old man Chris Horner's Trek Madone 6.9 SSL

The self-assured (and age-appropriate) set-up of the ATOC defending champion

Chris Horner has never been overly concerned with what professionals are “supposed to do”. And at age 40, the RadioShack-Nissan-Trek rider who started the 2012 Amgen Tour of California Sunday as the defending champion isn’t about to change his style.

On the eve of arguably the biggest race in America, riding on one of the world’s biggest professional cycling teams, Horner’s bike looked more like the rig of one of the fans cruising the team parking lot than the stereotypical pro bike.

For one thing, Horner rides with a saddle bag, even when followed by the team car. And he carries a pump, strapped to said saddle bag. His seat tube bottle cage is filled with a spare tubular, just in case.

For another thing, Horner rides a taller head tube than Trek’s “pro” geometry that the company calls H1. H2 features a head tube that’s 3cm taller than H1 geometry. A 56cm Madone 6.9 SSL in the H2 geometry has a 17cm head tube. (The reach is also about .5cm shorter.)

In fairness, Horner isn’t alone on the team in riding the H2 geometry. Five riders, including 27-year-old Matt Busche, use the H2 bikes.

“It is a lot about cosmetics, but it is also structurally stronger not having a big stack of spacers beneath the stem,” said Trek team liaison Jordan Roessingh.

Another nod to Horner’s preference for comfort over the stereotypical pro look — 25cm tires. (He will likely be racing 23s Schwalbe tubulars with the rest of his team throughout the week in California.)

Horner likes to be prepared. Even when he has a team car following him the day before the 2012 Amgen Tour of California

Horner is the only one on the team riding the wide Bontrager RL saddle, which he runs on a seatpost with almost no set-back. On the 56cm frame, Horner has a 120 stem.

“Chris is not exactly slammed,” Roessingh said of Horner’s position.

But despite his lack of concern for what pros are “supposed to do” for position, Horner continues to demonstrate the ability to deliver what really counts for professionals — getting himself first across the line.

Be sure to follow all the daily coverage of the Amgen Tour of California this week on Cyclingnews.com as Horner and his teammates defend his race title.

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