The Lampre-Merida team has confirmed that it will not retain Chris Horner for the 2015 season but has wished the veteran American rider all the best for the future and thanked him for the year he spent with the WorldTour team.
Horner won the 2013 Vuelta a España but only secured a place with Lampre-Merida in January. He was forced to miss the Giro d'Italia after being hit by a car while training in Italy and then fought illness at the Tour de France, finishing 17th overall. He finished second overall in the Tour of Utah but was stopped from riding the Vuelta by the MPCC due to a low level of cortisol in a voluntary test before the race. The 43-year-old's last race with Lampre-Merida was the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal on September 14.
"Team Lampre-Merida wish Chris all the best for his future: it would have been great for the team and Chris to have crossed paths earlier on in his career in order to have had a longer relationship," the team said in a statement on its website.
"Lampre-Merida would like to show their appreciation to Horner for his proactive attitude, his passion for cycling, sacrifices and efforts he made for the team during the 2014 season: Chris has been a true professional in all senses, especially with his experience which the young riders exploited."
A spokesman for the Italian team told Cyclingnews that it had opted to sign younger riders as it plans for the future. It intends to cut the number of riders on its roster to 26 in preparation for the UCI reforms of professional cycling in 2017, when WorldTour teams are likely to be limited to just 22 riders.
Lampre-Merida has so far confirmed 16 riders for 2015, including former world champion Rui Costa and sprinter Sacha Modolo. Classics rider Filippo Pozzato is also under contract for 2015, while new signings include Ruben Plaza. Diego Ulissi is still part of the team but is currently suspended as he awaits his disciplinary hearing with the Swiss cycling federation after testing positive for a high level of Salbutamol during the Giro d'Italia. Riders leaving the team include Damiano Cunego, Elia Favilli, Luca Wackermann and China's Gang Xu.
Horner's agent Baden Cooke suggested that several teams were interested in signing the 43-year-old rider in mid-October. But while Cooke secured a place for Jani Brajkovic with UnitedHealthCare, Horner has still to confirm if he will race in 2015 or finally hang up his wheels.