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Horner signs with Lampre-Merida

Stephen Farrand
January 30, 09:11,
January 30, 08:38
First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 30, 2014
Thumbs up: Chris Horner in red on the final day

Thumbs up: Chris Horner in red on the final day

  • Thumbs up: Chris Horner in red on the final day
  • Chris Horner (RadioShack) has time to laugh
  • Team Lampre Merida

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Veteran American inks a one-year-deal

The Lampre-Merida team has confirmed the signing of Chris Horner, with the veteran American set to lead the Italian team at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

The Lampre-Merida team confirmed Horner's arrival via Twitter, with Thursday's edition of the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper also publishing the news.

Horner, who turned 42 in October, is expected to make his debut in Lampre-Merida's stand out blue and fuchsia colours at the Trofeo Mallorca next week and will probably also attend the Merida bike presentation on the Spanish island.

Horner won the 2013 Vuelta a Espana but struggled to find a team for this season after refusing an offer from the Trek Factory Racing Team. He denied he is the redacted name labeled as rider 15 in USADA’s Reasoned Decision following the investigation into Lance Armstrong and doping at the US Postal Service team.

He switched agents in January and former rider Baden Cooke quickly made contact with Lampre-Merida. Team manager Brent Copeland worked hard to convince the team's sponsor to fund Horner's contract and a one-year deal was agreed.

More later..

ernesto. 7 months ago
Best news ever! Go old man! Go! :)
wrinklyvet 7 months ago
Good luck to him. I want him to show that young men in their early forties still have it! Let's hope we won't have to keep hearing about rider 15 now. He did deny it so let's assume it was a mistake to think so, and move on.
TheFred 7 months ago
Men in their 40's don't still have "it", particularly in comparison to whatever they had previously. It is conceivable to hang on into early forties, but to be a world beater in a grand tour is a stretch, especially when that level had not been achieved before. But he simply out powered them all...not peers, but men actually in their prime. I just assume he is on the same medicine Froome is on that gets you super skinny while retaining crazy power. Horner's wife is a lawyer, so maybe she funded it. And whatever it is, I don't think it is banned yet, nor commonly known. Ironically, I like Horner as a rider and as a person. I am super happy he got a ride for this year after trying so hard. Since he has found the elixir of youth and won the Vuelta, I hope he gives em hell in the Giro and Vuelta this year. I also hope he doesn't get busted so cycling doesn't get another black eye and he can become the most entertaining/informative color commentator yet. But just because I like him, want him to win again, not get busted, and become a commentator, his Vuelta win without enhancement is no less implausible.
wrinklyvet 7 months ago
Well, as it's conceivable to hang on into their early forties, that's a good enough endorsement for me, TheFred. Good to hear from you again but as you know I don't share all your views and doubts. I am glad, like you, that he has secured the place in this team that will enable him to ride as defending champion. I have little doubt that Horner will be good to watch.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I'm a big fan of horners even though i am sure he's doped to the gills. Strange bunch on here.
wfaulconer 7 months ago
What secret weapon does this perfectly not-wealthy (some would say simple minded) rider employ that is so sophisticated it beats the passport and the testing at a GT in 2013? We can't say he's clean because their is no definition of what a clean pro bike racer is. But I'm sure none of the riders today are doped "to the gills", it just isn't the nineties. My money is that like Jens, he was a doper, but rolled with the times and is now as clean as the rest (whatever that is) and benefitting from years of base, sacrifice and experience.
georgeeparker 7 months ago
Obviously you never heard of a guy named Bartali. He raced into his forties, and possibly even knocked a couple of years off his age. And, as he was a devout RC, I doubt he doped. Like Coppi, he missed out on some of his best years because of WWll. Still, not a bad record for an old geezer.
TheFred 7 months ago
I'm sure Chris would be quite pleased to learn you compared him to Bartali. Bartali was a world beater from the start, winning the Giro at age 22 and taking his 5th GT at the Tour at age 34. He won everything in sight from his start, including monuments. But by age 36 he was at the end of his big results. And that was a different day, when sport was not a multimillion dollar enterprise. And when riders did not have today's sports science to specialize and target single events for the year. What Bartali did in his career was completely different (vastly superior) than Horner. Bartali neither makes Chris look guilty nor innocent. But you have strengthened my point: no rider ever has won a Grand Tour at even close to age 41, much less as their first.
ridingthewave 7 months ago
Whyyyy did you even mention the rider 15 thing? That is not moving on.
wrinklyvet 7 months ago
Yes, an error on my part. Should have ignored the provocation in the article.
Lucifa 7 months ago
Where theres smoke, theres cycling drug cheats. whoops I mean fire.
wrinklyvet 7 months ago
If you have the slightest interest in any other aspect of cycling I am sure you could make interesting contributions.
GoatHerd 7 months ago
One way or another, it`ll put an end to all the speculation about his performance. Either he`ll produce a credible performance somewhere, or ride off into oblivion. I for one wish him good luck. I think it`s pretty cool that someone in his 40s can still perform at the top level, even though I remain somewhat skeptical.
Never wait 7 months ago
Are you skeptical of Jens Voigt as well? they are the same age give or take a couple of months.
CyclingsChanged 7 months ago
Jens no clean whistle.....
Moose McKnuckles 7 months ago
Yes. VERY skeptical of Jens Voigt. I like him as a rider, but no way that guy has been clean his career.
Brokenman 7 months ago
Pretty much anyone from that generation has a cloud of doubt over their heads. Perhaps I am being naive, but I like to think the remnants of that generation still around are now clean and those that are still strong are demonstrating their natural talent. I wonder if that drives Horner to keep racing now…thinking “what could have been” if he was racing in a clean peleton 10 years ago.
phathed 7 months ago
That's a really good point Brokenman. I find it interesting that Horner's results have improved each year as doping has been greatly reduced. He dominated the US peloton in the 90's when doping's influence here wasn't as strong. European results in the age of EPO were much more difficult for him. I also think people should be less judgmental of the previous generation. These are people who had bet everything on a career pursuing their dreams in cycling with families and nothing to fall back on. How do you really think you'd respond to a culture of endemic doping in that context?
Chrono 7 months ago
"These are people who had bet everything on a career pursuing their dreams in cycling with families and nothing to fall back on. How do you really think you'd respond to a culture of endemic doping in that context?" If I was a clean rider whose real talent had been cheated by the ultra-doping era I don't think I'd respond by saying Armstrong was the legit winner months after he's been stripped of his titles, that if you don't test positive there's nothing the authorities should be allowed do, & talk about how much the TdF victories of Armstrong, the king of the filthy peloton, meant to me. Which is how Horner reacted.
Sean Wicker 7 months ago
stop making every article about doping Chrono!! Hypocrite!
brian meahan 7 months ago
Jens Voigt wasn't winning grand tours in his 40's after being out most of the year with a knee injury.
Cat1ndone 7 months ago
That's because Jens was never a grand tour contender. Jens is doing what he always did in his career at a pretty similar level though which is impressive. In that way he is very similar to Horner.
reubenr 7 months ago
The comparisons between Horner and Voigt are almost bizarre in a way. Voigt is a very skillful, crafty rider, who knows how to drag the colors of his team to the front of the peleton, whereas Horner is a much more carefree GC rider, who can beat your pants off on most of the climbs. Interestingly, I think Horner has an advantage over Quintana, even, since they both can climb, but Horner seems to have more endurance. It could be dope, but it also could be advanced circulatory development that comes with activity and age, oddly enough. If most of the dopers had just waited, they would have all been able to ride like Horner. Instead, they got toasted. Go, Chris.
Sean Wicker 7 months ago
Good on him and good on Lampre for allowing a current GT champion to continue his career!!
wrinklyvet 7 months ago
Yes, he deserves that.
rshimizu12 7 months ago
It's about time :) Horner is great rider and deserves to be on a pro team. I think he will make many teams regret they did not hire him when they had the chance.
Strydz 7 months ago
Horner will bomb this year and if he gets to the Vuelta he will be lucky to ind his way to 10th let alone win
Matt Grice 7 months ago
Bitter? 10th at 42 would be a great achievement, why it took so long to find a team, it's difficult in cycling to pay for past performances.
Strydz 7 months ago
Matt Grice 7 months ago
PJK1972 7 months ago
The Vuelta really suited him last year. It was a real climbers GT. I can't see him doing anything in the Giro bar winning a stage or two and being top 10 overall, but he's surprised us before hasn't he?
bing181 7 months ago
I suspect all concerned would be more than happy with top 10 overall - they don't have anyone else who can deliver that to them.
Peter von 7 months ago
rastymick 7 months ago
I think, winning 2 stages at the Giro and being Top 10 would already be quite an accomplishment, especially for a 42 year old - 90% of all pros don't achieve that level of success in their entire career.
WonderLance 7 months ago
I'm an MAMIL and suspending my disbelief about Chris Homer allows me to continue with my middle aged fantasies. Go Chis!
rickmartyn 7 months ago
Let's all find our nearest Merida dealer and go check out a new bike!
WonderLance 7 months ago
My Trek is getting old now
Milan Černý 7 months ago
lost money, unless they´ve got him extra cheap.
Highwaystar 7 months ago
I agree. The odds are against Horner doing anything great this year, but all the best to him anyway.
LemonFriend 7 months ago
Lost money? I don't think so, even if he never gets a top ten finish. He's still an excellent tactician. He knows a lot about strategy that can be invaluable to any team he's on.
wrinklyvet 7 months ago
The sponsors have a guarantee that there will be extensive publicity for their brand. This is how sponsors get value for the money they put into cycling. There is massive interest in him, whatever your point of view.
Milan Černý 7 months ago
agree under one condition - he has to be winning, No one is insteresting in an old bloke going backwards. To nail a GT out of nowhere after many lean years makes me wonder if and how he could repeat this feat. We´ve seen too many "I will do anything in my last contract year (doping aside)" just to ride invisible once renewed.
wrinklyvet 7 months ago
Oh dear, the "old bloke" syndrome again. You wait, young man.
rastymick 7 months ago
I think he wasn't all too expensive and anyway, it's always a gamble - there are numerous riders who got a high paying contract with a new team after a classics win or a great performance at a GT and never showed anything again. Just look at the enormous amount of money, BMC spends on their stars, without really having that much to show (in terms of top results). Anyway, I think Lampre will get their fare share of media attention for having last years Vuelta winner in their ranks.
Milan Černý 7 months ago
With Horner and Costa they have PR advantage on their side. Let´s see if they can perform on the road. It has been here before - Schecks? Does this ring a bell? Massive PR just to prove again and again these folks are toasted for good.
Dan Vella 7 months ago
Really. They are going to get publicity whatever he does?
TheBean 7 months ago
Yes. Look at all the print the Schlecks get, and they haven't had many shining moments at all over the past couple seasons. The same could be said for Contador, to a lesser extent. Prior champions, especially when there is a story to go with them (age, Vuelta history, contract disputes) give the press something to talk about, get mote media attention than mid-level up and comers. I'm curious to know when the salary is and if his waiting game and manager switch paid off.
HeadPack 7 months ago
Pro sports are about much more than just results. The primary goal of any sponsor is media coverage. And buying Horner pretty much guarantees that. He will make the news if he wins and if he performs poorly as well. He is a special case, and a very special guy. Excellent and valuable material for stories.
wrinklyvet 7 months ago
Spot on!
rickmartyn 7 months ago
And the fact that Horner gives such entertaining interviews translates into more TV time/exposure for the sponsors.
wfaulconer 7 months ago
the velonews article explains the deal better, clearly he has to perform to really benefit.
arlobike 7 months ago
Agreed -- what VN described as a "top-heavy" or bonus-driven contract seems like a win-win. If Horner can repeat some top performances, he gets compensated accordingly. If not, the team hasn't lost much on the deal. On paper, the collaboration with Lampre could make for some really exciting racing. I hope Horner can click with the team culture and ride at his best this year.
abs666 7 months ago
What about Samuel Sanchez? Will you pls signed him?
Chromking 7 months ago
Yeah. Let's help him! We need to have a plan. Which teams are available?
Michele 7 months ago
RCS should just give the maglia rosa to him in advance.
Andrea Cerri 7 months ago
Like to Wiggins the past year ?
chrishent 7 months ago
There's this Quintana/Porte/Evans/Urán/Rodríguez guy who might have something to say about that. Oh and I suppose there's that Hesjedal dude as well ("I won the Giro. Let's do this")
bianchi1885 7 months ago
Because of the drama of the last few months with Horner being passed up, he will be one of the most followed riders by fans and media. His stock is rising and if he can challenge for a podium at the Giro and Vuelta, that would be special.
Gary613 7 months ago
Hopefully they will target him and test him to exhaustion - that way we can see if his "extra-terrestrial " performance last year was a one off or honest. I am sceptical about his past/teams and performance but would love to be proved wrong.
Scott Miner 7 months ago
Since when does testing someone to exhaustion prove anything?
Gary613 7 months ago
Just hoping they may have some surprises up their sleeves