Chris Horner is close to joining the Christina Watches on a three-year deal, Danish newspaper BT reports. The American Vuelta a Espana winner and the Danish continental team were first linked one week ago and it seems the two parties have made signficant progress towards reaching a three-year deal thanks to Horner apparently finding a personal backer to fund his salary while riding for the Danish team.
The team and Horner's new agent Baden Cooke have reportedly agreed upon a deal. "We know the terms of our contract," Christina Watches owner Claus Hembo told BT. The key to the deal is Horner's personal contract with his sponsor outside of Denmark. "Horner and the investor will meet and we hope they can reach an agreement," Hembo explained. Horner will only ride for the small Danish team if both contracts are signed.
Last year Horner became the oldest Grand Tour winner in history with his victory in the Vuelta a Espana. The American rider is now 42 years old but a three year contract, something the investor wants, doesn't seem to deter Hembo.
"It's a three-year contract because the company wants this. We think this may work and that Horner is the man that can get us Professional Continental status."
The three-year contract between the investment company and Horner is a two years plus one deal. "It was the same when we hired Michael Rasmussen," Hembo told BT.
"Horner might quit after two years. If he does not want the third year he is guaranteed a job with the company if he signs that personal contract."
Whether the deal succeeds, apparently depends on the negotiations between Horner and the undisclosed company. His new agent Baden Cooke told Cyclingnews that there were still possibilities Horner could ride in the WorldTour. However the Australian and Horner's former teammate has yet to convince a major team to sign Horner, despite his Vuelta victory. Teams like Unitedhealthcare and Lotto-Belisol have already denied any interest in Horner. He failed to reach a deal with the new Trek Factory Racing team because they refused to meet his salary requests.
Signing with a Continental level team means that Horner can't ride WorldTour races. Continental status only allows the team to ride 2.HC races in the country of registration, i.e. the Tour of Denmark, or receive invitations for smaller races around the world. Horner was not at the Vuelta route presentation in Spain on Saturday and would not be able to defend his 2013 Vuelta victory if he joins the Christina Watches team.
Cyclingnews tried to contact Baden Cooke via email but the Australian did not reply after spending the day at the Australian national championships. He later denied that a deal had been done via Twitter, writing:
"Christina Watches are using some cheap tactics saying on cyclingnews that I have agreed to a deal for @hornerakg. This is false."
"We are in talks with multiple teams including those in the World Tour. Christina Watches have made an offer, thats it."