Former sprinter still hopeful for a WorldTour ticket for Vuelta winner
Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner is yet to find a new team but he has a new agent in the form of recently retired sprinter Baden Cooke who has started the new year with the task of calling teams for his former team-mate after he received a phone call from him on December 31st.
"His past agent [Michael Rutherford] was not able to find something", Cooke told Cyclingnews ahead of the Australian road championship in Ballarat, Victoria. "Normally, everything is done in terms of riders' contracts a long time before this time of the year, but when Chris called me, I said I would do it because since we've been team-mates in my very first professional team, Mercury [in 2000 and 2001], I've always known how good he is as a bike rider. He's been underrated until he won the Vuelta but he's been one of the most consistent champions of the past ten years."
"I was a big fan when he raced the Vuelta for the win", Cooke continued. "I was surprised he didn't get a contract. Now I hope I can save the day for him. I've contacted many teams and I got a lot of negative answers, either because their roster is already full or because they want younger riders only, but there are still some possibilities in the air in the World Tour. Ideally, he'd race in support of a Tour de France contender and defend his title at the Vuelta. He's in the best form of his entire career and he's the cheapest Grand Tour winner of the past decade."
Cooke, 35, retired from cycling after riding his fourteenth season as a professional. He's not a UCI certified agent yet. "Until I pass the exam in September, I'm working for free and on a verbal basis with the riders", the green jersey winner of the 2003 Tour de France said. "It's coming faster than I expected. Many cyclists have contacted me. But although I represent the oldest rider, my big emphasis is on young guys. I want to take young Australians to Europe."