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"We're awaiting the final OK from a key sponsor. I'd hoped it would be finalised on Friday but it now looks like it will happen next week," Lampre-Merida manager Brent Copeland told Cyclingnews

Photo: Sirotti

BADEN COOKE

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CHRISTOPHER HORNER

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24.01.2014 @ 15:42 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

A truly endless stream of information concerning the insecure future of Christopher Horner as a professional rider has flooded the media connected with cycling this winter, but now there is a great hope to see the happy end of this story, as Lampre-Merida is reported to be close to signing the 42-year old American for 2014 season.

 

Although nothing can be considered certain before the final deal is done, especially after numerous rumors linked Horner with several different teams in the likes of Trek Factory Racing, Caja Rural, Team Colombia,  Androni-Venezuela or Christina Watches, Lampre-Merida manager Brent Copeland has confirmed a serious interest the Italian World Tour squad has in signing the last Vuelta a Espana champion.

 

In the interview for Cyclingnews, Copeland has confirmed that Lampre-Merida is very close to sealing the final agreement with Horner, and the decision on this matter is now depended only on the necessary approval from their key sponsors.

 

It seems that after living last few months in the atmosphere of uncertainty about his future since it became clear, that newly crowned Vuelta a Espana champion won’t find a spot in the recently reconstructed Trek Factory Racing (former RadioShack Leopard team), Horner made a wise move by hiring Baden Cooke as a new agent.

 

The Australian quickly contacted plenty of World Tour teams in the beginning of January, and despite receiving many negative answers, he remained quite certain that his strategy of making Horner the cheapest Grand Tour winner of the last decade while staying at a very top of his disposition, has to result with saving the season for the 42-year old rider eventually.

 

The duo was forced to reject some possibilities, like an offer from the Danish Continental squad Christina watches, as it couldn’t provide Horner with a chance to defend his Vuelta a Espana title considered as his greatest objective for 2014 season, but a lifeline thrown from Italian World Tour team, if becomes reality, should be exactly what they were looking for.

 

Despite the age and an almost endless stream of injuries constantly marring Horner throughout his long career in cycling, Copeland is certain that the American would play an important role in Italian team.

 

"We're definitely interested in Chris, and I've talked to him several times in the last few days. I don't know if Chris has other offers he's considering but we think he'd be good fit for us," Copeland told Cyclingnews.

 

"We're awaiting the final OK from a key sponsor. I'd hoped it would be finalised on Friday but it now looks like it will happen next week."

 

"He'd fill an important gap in the team and give us an extra rider to help our race roster. We want to be a more international team and Chris would be the first American rider to ride for Lampre-Merida."

 

If Horner joins Lampre-Merida, his racing schedule for 2014 season will include Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana as his major appearances, while World Champion Rui Costa is expected to lead the Italian squad through their Tour the France campaign and some major one-week long World Tour races.

 

"I think the only race Chris and Rui Costa would ride together would be the Tour of the Basque Country, which isn't a problem. He would target the Giro and the Vuelta, while Rui has the Tour de France as his big objective. So there's no problem at all."

 

If Horner does join Lampre-Merida, he is likely to make his first appearance for the team at the annual Merida presentation in Mallorca in early February.

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