Chris Horner to join ex-Vini Fantini team, Neri Sottoli?
Vuelta champion still looking for 2014 ride, Italian team finally secures new sponsor
Vuelta winner Chris Horner has been linked with a move to Neri Sottoli, which last year rode as Vini Fantini-Selle Italia. The American, who in September became the oldest ever Grand Tour winner when he won the Spanish race, has yet to find a team for 2014.
According to an article in today’s print edition of Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Horner’s agent, Michael Rutherford, has offered the 42-year-old’s services to Neri Sottoli's team manager, Angelo Citracca.
The newspaper adds however that Horner’s salary demands may be a stumbling block. Previous press reports have suggested that he is seeking around €1 million a year.
The salary Horner is seeking has also proved too much of an asking price for Trek Factory Racing, which is taking over the WorldTour licence of Horner’s former RadioShack-Leopard team.
Androni-Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio has also said that while he would welcome having a rider such as Horner on board, the team cannot afford him.
Some will no doubt harbor suspicions that Horner’s difficulty in finding a team is less to do with money and more about questions raised regarding his performance at the Vuelta.
For Yellow Fluo’s part, the team says it is committed to proving it is clean following a Giro d’Italia campaign last May that saw Danilo di Luca – now banned for life – sacked as the race neared its conclusion after it was revealed he had tested positive for EPO.
Team-mate Mauro Santambrogio, winner of Stage 14, tested positive for the same substance but has not yet been sanctioned and there are doubts over his B sample.
Those episodes led to Vini Fantini pulling out as title sponsor, and the team looked set to race this season as Yellow Fluo, the monicker inspired by its unmistakeable kit, until Neri Sottoli was annonced as headline sponsor today.
Matteo Rabottini, winner of a Giro stage in 2012, becomes the team leader, and he will be joined by new signing Simone Ponzi, who arrives from Astana.
Menwhile, 2000 Giro d’Italia champion Stefano Garzelli, who rode his final season with Vini Fantini last year, stays on to become a directeur sportif alongside Luca Scinto.