Lampre general manager Brent Copeland tells VeloNews:
“The main reason came down to his age. It was difficult to convince everyone within the team to keep him. There are only places for 25 riders on the team, and it’s not always easy to keep everyone happy. It’s unfortunate, because Chris is a fantastic rider and person, but his age was the deciding factor.”
In October, Horner turns 44. The team thought that he was too old, and so did other teams. In the end, Horner signed on with the Continental team Airgas Safeway for the 2015 season.
In 2013, Horner became the oldest rider in history to win a grand tour, when he won the Vuelta a España. At the time, he was 41.
He had big ambitions when he joined Lampre last season. Despite just having won the Vuelta a España, he had a hard time finding a squad because the teams thought that he was too old. A long time, it seemed like he would not find one.
When the Lampre management and staff started thinking about this season's roster, Horner's age proved his undoing.
“When you sit down and look at it, he’ll turn 44 this year, it was not easy to convince everyone to keep him. It was not a decision of just one person,” Copeland said. “I am the same age as Chris, but when I saw how dedicated he was, how much he focused on training, how he worked on stretching and core strength, and how professional he is, hat’s off to him. He could show a lot of young riders how it’s done.”
Horner never got the chance to race in top condition throughout the 2014 season.
“Since his Vuelta win, he hasn’t had the opportunity to show himself, and he deserves that,” Copeland continued. “Last year, it was unfortunate luck from A to Z. Before his crash, he form was super, but he couldn’t race the Giro. And when he came back for the Tour, he got bronchitis, and then the issue with the MPCC. He couldn’t show anybody what his true potential is.”
It is sad that he might never get that chance again. I hope that he will have a great season, but it will be difficult for him to return to WorldTour level. He may still have it in him, but the teams will most probably be more interested in signing someone younger.