Chris Horner has been unable to find a team for 2016, and he may be forced to hang up his helmet for good.
Horner’s agent, Baden Cook, advised the 2013 Vuelta a Espana champion to retire, according to l’Equipe, as his quest for a 2016 contract has come up empty.
Horner, 44, has raced for three different teams in as many years. After winning the Vuelta with the team that would become Trek Factory Racing, he left that squad and signed with Lampre-Merida for 2014. He was not re-signed by that WorldTeam for 2015, so he raced for the small, development-oriented Airgas-Safeway squad.
It was not the first time Horner returned to a small team following major success. After a successful 2003 season with Saturn, during which he won he won the Tour de Georgia, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, and the T-Mobile International in San Francisco, he signed with the small Webcor squad in 2004. He finished that season as the top-ranked rider on the National Racing Calendar.
His season with Airgas-Safeway didn’t go as well. The team missed invites to the major U.S. races like the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Challenge, leaving Horner with few opportunities for big results. He raced the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, where he finished on the podium in 2013 and 2014, but could manage only fifth.
Most major teams have closed their rosters, or will soon. Riders still without a contract are scrambling to find a job for next season. Horner, it seems, will scramble no more.