Lampre-Merida manager Brent Copeland has downplayed speculation linking his team with Chris Horner, explaining that the Vuelta a España winner’s agent, Baden Cooke, has offered his services to a number of teams in the past week.
“Horner’s new agent, Baden Cooke, called me to propose the signing of his rider,” Copeland told Tuttobici. “We’re not the only ones who were contacted. Cooke has recently taken over as Chris’ representative and is going around the teams again, he’s opening up contacts.”
Copeland explained that he has brought Cooke’s proposal before Giuseppe Saronni - who is now responsible for managing relationships with the team's sponsors - and the team owners, but that nothing concrete has been decided.
“After Cooke’s phone call, I spoke with Saronni and our ownership, inviting them to reflect on this opportunity,” Copeland said. “Things are as I’ve told you: there was phone contact and we’re assessing it, but we’re certainly not the only team in this situation.”
The 42-year-old Horner was a surprise winner of the 2013 Vuelta after missing most of the season through injury. Following the expiry of his contract with RadioShack at the end of last season, Horner was unable to agree terms with the revamped Trek Factory Racing team, with manager Luca Guercilena explaining that they were unable to meet his wage demands.
Horner dispensed with the services of agent Michael Rutherford in the new year and is now represented by former professional Baden Cooke, who retired at the end of last season. Earlier this week, Horner was linked with a move to Caja Rural-SGA Seguros, but the Pro Continental team moved quickly to dismiss the speculation.