Chris Horner is still without a team for the 2014 season and he won't be riding in Androni-Venezuela colours next year. The team's manager Gianni Savio tells Velonews that he doesn't have the money to sign the Vuelta champion and that a signing would be against the team's philosophy on focussing on younger riders.
With a knee injury that had kept him away from racing for most of the season and a contract up for renewal, Chris Horner's future as a professional rider looked dark when he lined up for the Vuelta a Espan in August. Three weeks later the 41-year-old appeared to have saved his career when he had taken the overall win one of cycling's major races.
However, things have proved to be more difficult for Horner than he had probably imagined. In early December, the now 42-year-old American still hasn't signed a contract with a new team and most squads have now finalized their rosters for the coming season.
The Androni-Venezuela team managed by Gianni Savio has had a reputation of hiring young South Americans and older riders who need a second chance, and so many have speculated that the Italian team could be a potential home for Horner. However, there will be no marriage between the parties as Savio simply doesn't have the money to sign the Vuelta champion.
“I have had no contact with Horner, because I have a very limited budget,” Savio told VeloNews. “I don’t have the money to offer a champion like Horner.”
Horner has earlier indicated that he could easily find a new team but that it is difficult to found a manager that will pay him like a grand tour champion. His asking price is reported to be 1 million Euros and that would make up almost half of Androni's budget.
“My budget is only 2.5 million euros, so you can understand why I cannot sign a rider like Horner,” Savio said. “I have to be realistic.”
As winner of the Coppa Italia competition, Androni-Venezuela has already secured itself a wildcard for the 2014 Giro d'Italia and Horner would have been a formidable captain for the team which has lost Franco Pellizotti. However, the team has changed its strategy, with Savio now focusing on young riders. Backed by the Venezuelan government, he hopes to reach the WorldTour in the next few years.
“Of course Horner could win the Giro!” Savio said. “A rider like Horner, a rider that I really respect and admire, is not part of our philosophy. We are a team a young riders, and we have a lot of confidence in the youth to build a strong structure for the future.”
Savio makes it clear that he has finalized his 18-rider roster that will start its season in the Tour de San Luis in January. With the signings of Kenny Van Hummel and Johnny Hoogerland, the team will be more present in Northern Europe than it has been in the past.
Earlier this year, the Caja Rural managers said that Horner's asking price was too high.
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