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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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

9 comments

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monty dog [462 posts] 3 years ago
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Aged-rider with suspicious spikes in performance seeks refuge in dodgy Italian team shocker?  39

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Alb [149 posts] 3 years ago
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^^^ Beat me to it

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Gkam84 [9097 posts] 3 years ago
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DAMN.....so they are not going to be called Yellow Fluo this season anymore  20 20 20

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Seems the ideal team for him.

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WolfieSmith [1378 posts] 3 years ago
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Bloody Vuelta. Still the Wild West every year in terms of turning a blind eye. Still angry about Cobo.  14

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Simmo72 [642 posts] 3 years ago
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Doesn't help the rumours when you end up in a team like this.

I think Horner won clean, he would have been picked up earlier. But it is too much of a gamble to invest such a big salary with a high risk of a poor return. Personally I would have reduced my salary and gone with a team that doesn't attract dopers like flies to ****.

Ooh Stefano Garzelli staying on a DS - wonderful. Why not get just get Di Luca on board as head of 'preparation, skullduggery and blame management'

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Ghedebrav [1099 posts] 3 years ago
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I've swung both ways (as it were) on Horner, but on reflection I think he did win clean. I'm not sure there actually were suspicious spikes in performance and he's been very open in publishing his bio passport.

That said, he's enormously overestimated his market value at a time when loads of really good riders are struggling to find a place on a team and he is older than several major world religions. He needs to drop his price, and his final packet (if he gets one) will probably not be too far from what Trek would've paid him to stay on. Silly man (and rubbish agent).

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pwake [419 posts] 3 years ago
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Ghedebrav wrote:

I've swung both ways (as it were) on Horner, but on reflection I think he did win clean. I'm not sure there actually were suspicious spikes in performance and he's been very open in publishing his bio passport.

That said, he's enormously overestimated his market value at a time when loads of really good riders are struggling to find a place on a team and he is older than several major world religions. He needs to drop his price, and his final packet (if he gets one) will probably not be too far from what Trek would've paid him to stay on. Silly man (and rubbish agent).

I think Horner's always raced clean (no evidence to the contrary; that'll maybe get some rider 15 comments, I know) and unfortunately has, literally, paid the price for that. He now seems to be trying to 'make hay while the sun shines' but his age is definitely against him.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 3 years ago
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yeah I don't get why Horner didn't drop his salary demands some and go with a more reputable team. I mean making half a million Euro a years sounds a LOT better than asking for a million and getting none