Chris Horner has been named as part of the Lampre-Merida team for the Tour de France, which gets underway in Leeds on Saturday. The team’s general classification challenge will be led by world champion Rui Costa, who showcased his form by winning the Tour de Suisse last week, while Sacha Modolo will chase stage victories in bunch finishes.
Horner signed for Lampre in January of this year and was originally slated to ride the Giro d’Italia as team leader. The veteran suffered a punctured lung and four fractured ribs in a training crash near Lake Como in April, however, and spent the next two months on the sidelines.
The American returned to action at the Tour of Slovenia last week, and his 14th place finish was enough to book him his ticket to the Tour. Horner will turn 43 in October, and he became the oldest ever Grand Tour winner last autumn when he surprisingly claimed victory at the Vuelta a España ahead of Vincenzo Nibali.
Horner’s last Tour appearance came in 2012, when he finished in 13th place, while his best overall finish was his ninth place in the 2010 edition.
Costa, meanwhile, will look to break into the top 10 of the Tour for the first time in his career as he makes his debut as the outright leader for a three-week race. The Portuguese rider won two stages and finished 27th overall last season while riding in the service of Alejandro Valverde at Movistar.
As well as Horner, Costa will be able to rely on the support of Rafael Valls Ferri, Kristijan Durasek and José Serpa in the mountains, and there is also a place for his fellow countryman Nelson Oliveira, who captured the Portuguese national road and time trial titles at the weekend.
Modolo enjoyed a fine opening to the season and he picked up where he had left off with a stage victory at the Tour de Suisse. The sprinter’s form was enough to earn himself a Tour debut and space for two lead-out men to boot, as Max Richeze and Davide Cimolai are also included.
There is no place in Lampre’s Tour line-up for Filippo Pozzato, however, who had already been disappointed to be deemed surplus to requirements for the Giro d’Italia.
In a press release detailing its Tour roster, Lampre noted that the squad was selected by team management in consultation with technical advisor Michele Bartoli.
Lampre-Merida team for the Tour de France: Davide Cimolai, Rui Costa, Kristijan Durasek, Christopher Horner, Sacha Modolo, Nelson Oliveira, Maximiliano Ariel Richeze, Josè Rodolfo Serpa Perez and Rafael Valls Ferri.
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