Vuelta champion Chris Horner joins Lampre-Merida

American who last year became oldest Grand Tour winner finally ends his search for a new team

by Simon_MacMichael   January 30, 2014  

Chris Horner leads 2013 Vuelta after Stage 3 (Vuelta 2013 Unipublic:Graham Watson)

Chris Horner, who last September became the oldest winner of any of cycling’s three Grand Tours when he won the Vuelta at the age of 41, has signed for Lampre-Merida.

The American, now aged 42, had been struggling to find a team for 2014 with outfits such as Trek Factory Racing, which took over the licence from his former employers, RadioShack-Leopard, said to have been deterred by his reported €1 million salary demands.

Lampre-Merida, which previously recruited world champion Rui Costa from Movistar, announced Horner’s arrival on Twitter this morning.

The deal was brokered by his former team-mate, the retired sprinter Baden Cooke, whom Horner appointed as his agent earlier this month, replacing Michael Rutherford.

Horner saw off the challenge of Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali to win last year’s Vuelta, but was dogged by accusations of doping, not helped when a mix-up over an address led to him missing an anti-doping control the day after the race finished.

Previously, he rode alongside Lance Armstrong at Astana and RadioShack, teams both managed by Johan Bruyneel, although he says he never saw any evidence of doping there, despite the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stating that it did take place.

Last November, he also denied that he was one of the riders linked to doping whose names were redacted in USADA’s Reasoned Decision into banning Armstrong for life and stripping him of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1998 and 2005.

Horner is expected to begin his 2014 campaign at next week’s Trofeo Mallorca.

19 user comments

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A replacement for Cunego, once CONI ban him for two years? It's all a bit.....unsavoury.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [563 posts]
30th January 2014 - 12:23

21 Likes

Nothing suspect about any of this, nothing at all. Ever.

posted by farrell [1517 posts]
30th January 2014 - 12:24

16 Likes

A replacement for Ballan (banned), Scarponi (implicated in Puerto), Cunego (indicted)...

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [897 posts]
30th January 2014 - 13:15

11 Likes

but a least he is NOT rider 15 ..... not at all, no never, wasn't him etc etc

posted by Gary613 [32 posts]
30th January 2014 - 13:22

13 Likes

I cant understand why any pro team would want a 41 yr old with a shadow hanging over his head ?

Now if you look at Jens Voigt at the age of 42 now thats what you call a legend and any team would want him.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2809 posts]
30th January 2014 - 13:28

9 Likes

Suggestions on twitter that he has paid for a place on the team...

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3320 posts]
30th January 2014 - 14:01

7 Likes

Quote:
Now if you look at Jens Voigt at the age of 42 now thats what you call a legend and any team would want him.

Would that be the same Jens who has been giving some remarkably strange interviews where he gets very defensive during questions about doping and who denies ever hearing about doping at CSC despite comments to the contrary by other people?

posted by atlaz [157 posts]
30th January 2014 - 15:26

11 Likes

atlaz wrote:
Quote:
Now if you look at Jens Voigt at the age of 42 now thats what you call a legend and any team would want him.

Would that be the same Jens who has been giving some remarkably strange interviews where he gets very defensive during questions about doping and who denies ever hearing about doping at CSC despite comments to the contrary by other people?

This.

Personally I'm really pleased that Chris is going to be racing again this year and defending his Vuelta title. Good luck old man.

posted by iamelectron [109 posts]
30th January 2014 - 16:28

12 Likes

***Sigh***

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1278 posts]
30th January 2014 - 16:36

7 Likes

Quote:
I cant understand why any pro team would want a 41 yr old with a shadow hanging over his head ?
Now if you look at Jens Voigt at the age of 42 now thats what you call a legend and any team would want him.

I've never bought the "good old bloke" Voigt thing. I think the difference is that Voigt is smart enough to get good solid results, but not too good, whereas Horner got greedy and was daft enough to go and win a grand tour...

I like the way any article about Horner now has to include a long list of things that he didn't know about and definitely wasn't involved in!

posted by kcr [66 posts]
30th January 2014 - 16:43

15 Likes

I don't know why Horner (or Froome, for that matter) is singled for especial doubt and suspicion. Yeah, he did probably dope in the past. I'm a lot less certain that he did last year to win the Vuelta. There are a lot of people on Twitter and elsewhere who need to either start bluntly coming out and stating solid sources or evidence, or cool their jets on what is becoming an increasingly bizarre virtual lynch mob.

As to him paying for a place, it could be true but I doubt it very much. It seems cycling fans have, en masse, decided to cast Horner as a villain. I'm not going to join in. It's a bit weird.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1102 posts]
30th January 2014 - 16:50

9 Likes

Ghedebrav wrote:
I don't know why Horner (or Froome, for that matter) is singled for especial doubt and suspicion. Yeah, he did probably dope in the past. I'm a lot less certain that he did last year to win the Vuelta. There are a lot of people on Twitter and elsewhere who need to either start bluntly coming out and stating solid sources or evidence, or cool their jets on what is becoming an increasingly bizarre virtual lynch mob.

Does the quote below help you appreciate why people are dubious?

Anti-doping expert Robin Parisotto has said that he has questions about the biological passport released last month by Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner, explaining that he believes that some of the values in the blood profile justify further scrutiny and testing.

“While it is not 100 percent clear that there is anything untoward happening, there’s certainly unusual patterns there,” Parisotto told VeloNation on Friday. “If this was something that came across my desk for evaluation [as part of cycling’s biological passport panel – ed], I would certainly be putting a question mark on it. I’d at least request that further samples to be taken, particularly just before and during competitions, in order to see if the pattern was a one-off or if it persists.

posted by fatty [74 posts]
30th January 2014 - 21:13

6 Likes

Horner is a brilliant and deserves more respect, he won the Vuelta in style. It's the same old stories with no proof believed by those that have never won a thing or even trained hard enough to discover whats possible for themselves with their own efforts.

41 is not old!

mt

posted by timothy [32 posts]
31st January 2014 - 17:14

3 Likes

I'd be more inclined to listen to the opinion of an educated medical professional than cycling fans operating a popularity clap-o-meter when it comes to doping etc... The bigger picture is that it's just such a shame cycling as a sport has ended up in this highly cynical situation. Any winning cyclist will have doubts raised as a result regardless of their ethics. I'm happy to blame old school UCI for that though. I'll be interested in what Cookson can reveal during his trawl of previous years...

For what it's worth, I think Horner made the Vuelta a memorable race and I agree that 41 or 42 isn't old - it's daft to judge him on that (but not so daft to raise an eyebrow on potential medical anomalies based on scientific fact).

posted by fatty [74 posts]
31st January 2014 - 20:09

3 Likes

The Horner/Voigt comparison is really interesting because of their ages. Voigt rode for Bjarne Riis on the heavily juiced CSC team, but people generally like him today. He gets a free pass. Horner was stranded in small US domestic teams at a time when US Postal was firing riders who wouldn't participate in "the full program." He did join them in their later incarnation, though his exclusion from Postal is interesting. Boonen rode for Lance and Johan at the height of US Postal doping, and I haven't seen him get pilloried for his associations.

The public assumptions about who's "a legend" and who needs to be bashed in web forums are random at best. I wouldn't single out Chris Horner, though the Lampre team does have a pretty unfortunate past. He must have really needed the job...

posted by 53x11 [8 posts]
31st January 2014 - 20:42

5 Likes

fatty wrote:
Ghedebrav wrote:
I don't know why Horner (or Froome, for that matter) is singled for especial doubt and suspicion. Yeah, he did probably dope in the past. I'm a lot less certain that he did last year to win the Vuelta. There are a lot of people on Twitter and elsewhere who need to either start bluntly coming out and stating solid sources or evidence, or cool their jets on what is becoming an increasingly bizarre virtual lynch mob.

Does the quote below help you appreciate why people are dubious?

Anti-doping expert Robin Parisotto has said that he has questions about the biological passport released last month by Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner, explaining that he believes that some of the values in the blood profile justify further scrutiny and testing.

“While it is not 100 percent clear that there is anything untoward happening, there’s certainly unusual patterns there,” Parisotto told VeloNation on Friday. “If this was something that came across my desk for evaluation [as part of cycling’s biological passport panel – ed], I would certainly be putting a question mark on it. I’d at least request that further samples to be taken, particularly just before and during competitions, in order to see if the pattern was a one-off or if it persists.

There is understandable widespread suspicion about all riders. In fact, the pro-peloton should accept that, given what has been long suspected and now confirmed about doping, that the public will start from a base point of cynicism regarding any rider.

My point's more about the mass hysteria specifically addressed towards Horner (plus Froome, and - to lesser extent - Wiggins). And not just that - it's the tone of the debate that grinds my gears. There is a prevailing view among this crowd that anyone who dares suggest anything other than cast-iron certainty that Chris Horner force feeds EPO to puppies, foie-gras-style, is a credulous simpleton.

This kind of flat assumption is no more helpful (or interesting) than the erstwhile Lance-defenders adamant that he'd never touched anything stronger than a fizzy energy drink.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1102 posts]
31st January 2014 - 21:21

8 Likes

53x11 wrote:
Boonen rode for Lance and Johan at the height of US Postal doping, and I haven't seen him get pilloried for his associations.

Thinking

Wondered for a while how Boonen has avoided these questions.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1102 posts]
31st January 2014 - 21:24

2 Likes

Ghedebrav wrote:
53x11 wrote:
Boonen rode for Lance and Johan at the height of US Postal doping, and I haven't seen him get pilloried for his associations.

Thinking

Wondered for a while how Boonen has avoided these questions.

I would suggest Boonen's age for a start, fairly sure i read the doping wasn't applied to neo-pro's, and one question, why did he leave us postal when he was still under contract?

In hindsight, did Boonen see things he didn't like???

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1178 posts]
31st January 2014 - 21:57

6 Likes

Ghedebrav wrote:
My point's more about the mass hysteria specifically addressed towards Horner (plus Froome, and - to lesser extent - Wiggins). And not just that - it's the tone of the debate that grinds my gears. There is a prevailing view among this crowd that anyone who dares suggest anything other than cast-iron certainty that Chris Horner force feeds EPO to puppies, foie-gras-style, is a credulous simpleton.

This kind of flat assumption is no more helpful (or interesting) than the erstwhile Lance-defenders adamant that he'd never touched anything stronger than a fizzy energy drink.

No flat assumption from me. Horner's blood values have not actually been investigated fully so may be absolutely fine! However, they may not be too, as suggested by a medic... What bothers me more are the views of people that demand a rider is clean when the likes of Robin Parisotto have questioned this with an argument based on substance of medical fact. It's the ignorance and dismissal of these possible signals of fowl play that have plagued the sport in the past and have allowed PEDs to dominate unchallenged, damaging the entire reputation of the sport.

You raise a good point about the hysteria etc. I see no evidence to suggest Froome or Wiggins should be subjected to suspicion. Sadly, all Froome and Wiggins have 'done wrong' as it were, were to win races in a era of suspicion. I suspect we're both putting across the same point. I'm merely indicating why Horner gets bad press. People think he's too old (incorrectly in my opinion) and somebody with relevant knowledge had questions about his bio stats. The fence isn't such a daft place to sit on this matter.

posted by fatty [74 posts]
1st February 2014 - 19:14

4 Likes