UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team acted to end persistent rumors today that linked both 2008 Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez and 2013 Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner to the US-based UCI Pro Continental outfit.
Team spokseman Wes Mallette confirmed to Cyclingnews that the 2014 rosters for both the men's and women's teams are "complete and final," and the team is not in discussion with Sanchez or any other riders regarding 2014 contracts.
UnitedHealthcare is targeting invitations to its first-ever WorldTour races this year, possibly even a Grand Tour, fueling the rumors that the team might be going after Grand Tour general classification riders such as Sanchez or Horner. But that is simply not the case, Mallette said.
Sanchez has ridden for Euskatel-Euskadi since 2000, but the WorldTour team will not continue next season and Sanchez has not yet signed with another team. Aside from his win in the Olympic race in 2008, the 35-year-old Spaniard was second overall at the 2009 Vuelta and has won five stages in the Spanish Grand Tour. Sanchez, who has 25 pro wins and has competed in 14 Grand Tours, was third overall at the 2009 Tour de France.
Sanchez won the Tour of the Basque Country in 2012 by dropping Joachim Rodriguez and Horner on his way to winning the Queen stage. He took over the leader's jersey with a win in the individual time trial. He finished eighth overall in the 2013 Vuelta and won a stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, and he was also second during the individual time trial at the Giro d'Italia. Sanchez is also a dangerous rider in hilly one-day classics.
Horner, 42, has been a professional since 1995 and rode for the RadioShack-sponsored teams since 2010. Despite winning the Vuelta this season and becoming the oldest rider to win a Grand Tour, Horner was not re-signed to the squad when Trek took over ownership of its WorldTour license. Horner has also won the Tour of the Basque Country in 2010 and the Amgen Tour of California in 2011. He has ridden 11 Grand Tours and 12 one-day classics, mostly at the Giro di Lombardia. He has 10 professional UCI wins.
Horner also won the Queen Stage at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah this season and finished second overall to Garmin-Sharp's Tom Danielson there during his first race back from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of the season. Horner represented the US at the world championship road race in Italy this year, but he dropped out before the finish.
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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