Tough Times in Cycling

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10/21/2013| 5 comments
by Neil Browne
Tough Times in Cycling - One rider tries to secure a contract while another symbolically cuts away from it Fotoreporter Sirotti

Tough Times in Cycling

One rider tries to secure a contract while another symbolically cuts away from it.

it didn’t come as a surprise to me that Trek Factory Team didn’t extend Horner’s contract. They have jumped onto the Fabian Cancellara bandwagon and secured his signature for 2014. Also, they kept the Schleck brothers, which I would bet my bottom dollar they got at a huge discount.

The word on the street is the recent Vuelta winner is asking for a million dollars a year. In contrast to football, baseball, or basketball, a million bucks is chump change. LeBron James probably has that rolling around under the seat of his Bentley. In cycling, and especially this year, that type of money is hard to find. There’s also the awkward Reasoned Decision letter from Levi Lepheimer’s testimony. As I’ve written before there’s a redacted name (known as Rider 15) that is speculated to be Chris Horner. Horner in a brief phone conversation with Cyclingnews wouldn’t deny the claim and instead said he had to get off the phone as he was driving. Velonews followed up with Horner but didn’t ask that question. In Horner’s defense he has denied doping and published his blood values from this year’s Vuelta to back that up. That’s a gutsy move by Chris as it leaves the interpretation of his blood work open to everyone.

Sure enough in a recent Velonation story anti-doping expert Robin Parisotto raises some questions about Horner’s blood values. Parisotto doesn’t say exactly what is suspicious about the blood values as he doesn’t want to tip off people looking to beat the blood passport system. However, he does question why Horner’s hemoglobin, which starts to decrease as the Vuelta wore on (normal), starts to return to baseline in the third week (not normal). He tells Velonation that he would request further examination of Horner’s blood. Not a smoking gun of doping, but if you’re a team manager with limited funds, do you want to take that risk?

Finally there’s the age factor. We’ve been told ad nauseam about Horner’s age - he’ll be 42 years old next season. Again, if you’re a manager do you risk a guy with hundreds of thousands of race miles on his body or go with a younger rider with potential?

It’s these scenarios that are holding up Horner from getting a contract - a contract that he deserves. There is no concrete proof that he doped during the Vuelta a Espana and the blood values, according to Parisotto, look suspicious, but are far from damning.

In the end I’m confident Chris will get a contract, just not at the dollar amount he thinks he deserves. There’s too much unexplained baggage which could lead to a public relations disaster. Maybe he’s not doping during this current phase of his career, but while he was on Saunier Duval maybe it’s discovered he was? That said, some team will take a chance on him and perhaps Chris can ride out the last years of his professional career with his head held high.

Cutting Away From The Past

One rider that did call it a day was American Christian Vande

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It's LeBron James, not James LeBron.


Neil still can't write a story without Lance being in it, Neil sure knows how to get mileage out of a dead horse. I also don't see how Neil can claim that Lance dropped out of the Tour of California because of the Floyd story the day before the crash, does Neil think Lance crashed out on purpose.

It might be tough times in cycling, but Chris Horner not getting a million dollar contract isn't because of it, it's just not smart to throw that kind of money down on someone that is going to be 42 years old in the upcoming season. While winning the Vuelta is a great feat, the race didn't have all of the top riders competing in it. Those million dollar contracts will go to the guys that can have teams built around them, that isn't Chris Horner.

neilroad's picture

Please show me in my article where I said "Lance dropped out because of Landis' story." In fact I say Lance dropped out because he crashed. At no point do I even insinuate Armstrong crashed out on purpose. I'll see if I can get the video published under my story, but if I do - watch it. He's dazed and slightly confused. No way did he crash on purpose.

I write this without trying to be mean (but it's going to sound mean - sorry), but if you want to get your point across and not look clueless improve your reading comprehension and grammar. You just come off as confused. Case in point - the your first paragraph is just a rant that makes no sense. However, your second paragraph is completely valid and reasonable.

In the future send me your comments, I'll edit for clarity and you can post them. I think that will work out best for everyone.

Thanks for reading!


Neil, let me first state that I enjoy your sense of humor on Twitter and in your articles. Cycling clearly needs more humor. Also, you have the analytical ability to think outside the box. I liked the article that you wrote comparing overage of the America's Cup Race with the typical coverage TV Coverage.

Regarding this article, I think it was inappropriate for Christian Vande Velde to saw the bicycle in half. After this act became public, it was claimed that the bike was greatly damaged. I don't buy this. I think the bike could have been repaired and auctioned off etc.

Regarding the Lance part, I understand that you were personally hurt financially by him. His actions towards you were very reprehensible. It is my hope that you have recovered financially from his actions. I don't believe that you wrote anything inappropriate above regarding Lance Armstrong. Let's face it, Lance is the elephant in the room. Articles about him get many clicks on the web. I think that we are all trying to figure him out.

Larry T.'s picture
Larry T.|

If VandeVelde wanted to saw his bike in half, who cares? It's NOT like it was some irreplaceable piece of artisan craftsmanship. If he sawed up an original Masi or DeRosa, THEN I'd be on the verge of outrage!