Cooke: Horner has one possible option in Europe, others in the US

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Following Tuesday’s news that the Lampre Merida team will not renew with Chris Horner, his agent Baden Cooke has told CyclingTips that he and the rider are examining several other options for 2015.

“There is a team in Europe that is a possibility,” Cooke said. “We are just waiting to hear back from that, and otherwise he has got a few options in America. If Europe doesn’t pan out, he will be based in America. The priority is to focus on Europe first and see if that happens.”

Cooke didn’t disclose the team name but said it was a Pro Continental squad with a good programme.

The 43 year old American won the Vuelta a España in 2013, becoming the oldest winner ever, but had a difficult season this year due to being hit by a car early on, then suffering chest infections which hampered him in races including the Tour de France.

He bounced back to take second overall in the Tour of Utah, but was unable to start the Vuelta a España after the MPCC anti-doping movement, of which his team is a member, ran blood tests before the race start and determined that his cortisol levels were too low.

This is often indicative of cortisone use. Horner said that he had been prescribed a treatment containing the substance in order to help him get over the chest infection he suffered during the Tour. He said that this was covered by a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), and thus broke no rules.

However, as Lampre-Merida is a member of the MPCC, it had to accept the organisation’s regulations relating to abnormal cortisol levels.

Cooke said that he hoped to get a contract in place as soon as possible, and that he was frustrated by the delay.

“I feel really bad for Chris,” he said. “Everyone is forgetting that he was almost killed by a car this year.”

Cooke also looks after the Belgian rider Gert Steegmans, and told CyclingTips that he expects to receive an offer from a team by the end of this week.

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