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“The proposition of Chris Horner is on the team manager’s table, and as soon as the position of the budget is clearer, we will be able to confirm about whether we will give a contract to Chris or not," Appiani said.

Photo: Sirotti






26.09.2014 @ 09:10 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Because of an article published by Gazzetta dello Sport, rumors about Lampre-Merida refusing to extend Chris Horner’s contract started to circulate, but the Italian team quickly turned down such suggestions stating, that they’re yet to confirm their budget for the 2015 season, and so – to evaluate a position of the 42-year old American in the squad.


“I think the info that La Gazzetta released was not correct,” team spokesman Andrea Appiani told CyclingTips Wednesday. “Under UCI rules, before the end of the month the team has to record ten contracts of riders. So in this moment we are okay with these ten contracts.


“Meanwhile we are waiting to define the the team budget. We are in no hurry. As soon as the budget will be defined, we will be able to evaluate the position of Chris Horner.”


It means that the situation hasn’t change dramatically since we have recently informed about it. In an interview published over a week ago Horner stated that most of the Lampre-Merida riders still wait for the team to confirm their budget before having their contracts extended ant thus he claimed to be relatively calm about his future in professional cycling.


"No contract, nothing is done yet," Horner told Cyclingnews. "Everything is open for next year and we'll see what happens. I haven't signed anything yet for next year. It's stressful to a degree because it's always nice to have things lined up, especially at my age."


"This team [Lampre-Merida] is still working on their budget," he said. "Except for Rui Costa, most of the other guys haven't signed yet."


Horner didn’t manage to find a new team until the end of 2013 season despite his victory in the Spanish Grand Tour and only a tremendous work done by his agent and former team-mate Baden Cooke encouraged Lampre-Merida to throw an American a lifeline.


"I would like to do another year, maybe two, we'll see how it goes," said Horner, who believes that his age, not his capability, is the main reason he doesn't have a finalized contract yet.


"Obviously at my age it's difficult because nobody wants an older guy," he said. "I'm six or seven years passed the expiration date. I have to fight against that. I don't think age should matter but obviously it does because if it didn't I'd have 20 teams wanting to sign me because I'm a Grand Tour winner, instead of just a few."


As a history seems to repeat itself, the 42-year old former Vuelta a Espana champion claims that his age is the only reason why he – the Grand Tour winner – struggles so badly to find a team to continue his professional career with. It seems, however, that signing a contract with the American is a big risk for any team and his too well documented history of injuries which prevented him from performing accordingly to his capabilities might be the real reason.


The 2014 season wasn’t different for Horner in this respect. The 42-year old American was forced to withdraw from several events because of achilles tendon injury before a dangerous training crash with a car forced his out of the Giro d’Italia. The former Vuelta a Espana champion recovered quickly enough to make it back for the Tour de France where his performances were hampered by bronchitis. To make things worse, a medication prescribed by Lampre-Merida team doctor pushed his cortisol levels below norms accepted by the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible (MPCC) and the Italian squad was forced to withdraw his participation in the Vuelta, where he was due to defend his 2013 title.


Cooke’s reaction to revelations published by the Italian newspaper suggested that they indeed didn’t have much to do with a reality. However, American rider’s agent revealed that even though they’re in ongoing negotiations with Lampre, several other World Tour squads are still considered.


“That’s news to me,” Cooke told CyclingTips, when asked about the report. “I haven’t heard that.”


“He is still looking. Talks are still ongoing with a couple of teams.”


According to Appiani, Lampre-Merida is one of those. “Baden Cooke spoke recently to Brent Copeland, and Brent gave Baden Cooke feedback,” he said.


“The proposition of Chris Horner is on the team manager’s table, and as soon as the position of the budget is clearer, we will be able to confirm about whether we will give a contract to Chris or not."


“At this moment there is not a firm yes or no.”



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