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"I would have liked to have kept him on board but obviously we have various sponsors who we have to keep happy and various requests from them for riders they want," Copeland said.

Photo: Sirotti






06.11.2014 @ 07:58 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

As Christopher Horner’s departure from Lampre-Merida has been eventually confirmed, the team manager, Brent Copeland, quickly revealed a background of a difficult decision after he had emphasized his will to keep the American veteran on board few weeks earlier. In line with all expectations, Copeland was eventually forced to bend under the pressure created by the sponsors.


Since there was no progress in negotiations between Horner and Lampre for several weeks, Copeland stated in the beginning of October that he would be happy to keep the American on board if only it was his own decision. He was forced to wait for the Italian team sponsors to have their say, and quite predictably their eventual opinion was significantly different to his own.


"I would have liked to have kept him on board but obviously we have various sponsors who we have to keep happy and various requests from them for riders they want," Copeland told Cyclingnews.


Even though Horner had hoped that the team would extend his contract once their budget was confirmed, Lampre manager confirmed that in the end it didn’t come down to the money but a limited space in their roster for 2015.


"It's not easy to satisfy everyone because there's only a certain amount of space. This wasn't about budget, it was about space. When you only have three spaces available and you've got ten requests it's not just about one rider anymore."


"It wasn't that there were sponsors pushing not to take Chris. It's just that there were sponsors pushing for riders from their territories, like Taiwan and China. However, it's not just a case of taking a rider because a sponsor asks us. We have to look at a number of aspects including the economical side, and the talent of riders within certain territories."


Copeland once again admitted that in his own opinion the 43-year old American earned his spot at Lampre for a second consecutive year, having done a great job for the Italian team despite numerous setbacks he suffered. He also emphasized that his belief in Horner as a Grand Tour contender remained unfazed.


"I still think that Chris can ride a Grand Tour and go for a top ten. That's my personal point of view. It's a real pity because of the sacrifices he's put into his work and the talent that he has," Copeland added.


"I don't know where he will end up next year but I hope he gets a ride because he deserves it. The hardest thing for him is his age and that's not an easy one to confront but his personality and professionalism mark him as a true professional."



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