Horner signs WorldTour contract with Lampre-Merida team, will target Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Horner signs WorldTour contract with Lampre-Merida team, will target Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España

by Shane Stokes at 5:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Vuelta a España winner finally gets WorldTour deal for 2014

Chris HornerMonths of searching for a contract have come to an end for Chris Horner, with the Vuelta a España winner inking a contract to race with the Lampre-Merida team this season.

The Italian WorldTour squad has confirmed a Gazzeta dello Sport story published today which stated that the American would be part of its team for this season. It is yet to comment further on the matter.

According to the Italian newspaper, Horner could make his debut with the team at the Challenge Mallorca races, which begin on February 9th. That depends on the necessary paperwork being completed in time. Further ahead, the Giro d’Italia and a defence of his Vuelta a España title are aims for the season, with Horner to concentrate on those two events rather than ride the Tour de France.

Horner became the oldest Grand Tour winner in history last September when he took two stages plus the overall classification in the event. The win came at the end of a frustrating season where he missed several months of competition due to injury, and underwent an operation to correct the problem.

Despite taking the biggest win of his career, he struggled to get the offers that he said he deserved. He said in several interviews that he felt he was undervalued and was holding out for a salary that he believed was warranted, given his Vuelta a España win.

Negotiations with the new Trek Factory Racing team – which had evolved out of his previous RadioShack Leopard structure – came to nothing, with his salary requests deemed too high by the team.

Horner published his biological passport data on September 25th in a bid to dispel any questions about his Vuelta victory, and invited media to have it assessed by experts. Speaking independently of his UCI biological passport panel role, anti-doping scientist Robin Parisotto raised some questions about Horner's profile, telling VeloNation that he believed additional tests were warranted.

Horner split with his previous agent Michael Rutherford, who was replaced by former professional rider Baden Cooke. He was then linked to possible moves to other squads, including Caja Rural and Christina Watches. However Cooke said that he was holding out for a WorldTour team, something which has now been achieved.

Horner will join current world champion Rui Costa on the team, with the Portuguese rider having moved across from Movistar. The Italian team will also feature riders such as former Giro d’Italia winner Damiano Cunego, but Horner will almost certainly be its captain for that Grand Tour.

It is understood that his contract is for one season and has a number of bonuses built in.

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