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Dec. 1, 2014 — Chris Horner has signed a new contract to race with Airgas-Safeway in 2015, he confirmed with peloton on Monday.
Words by Daniel McMahon // Image by Yuzuru Sunada
“I am very excited to be joining Airgas-Safeway for 2015,” Horner said in a statement from the team. “I have achieved a huge amount of success in my career and I’m incredibly proud of that. For me, the next chapter isn’t just about what I can do as an individual, but what I can give back to cycling as a sport. I had a number of options for this year and what really struck me about Airgas-Safeway was their utter commitment to giving the next generation of young riders the opportunity for success.
“Racing with excited young athletes fits well with my love of the sport, and it will be a great partnership to build for the future. I look forward to sharing my racing and tactical experience to help the team race for the win at Tour of California, Tour of Utah, and many other races throughout the season.”
Airgas-Safeway is a US-registered UCI continental team, and is managed by D3Devo. It consists of 16 riders from the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Airgas is a leading supplier of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hardgoods. Safeway is a grocery retailer.
Horner rode with Italian team Lampre-Merida in 2014, but the outfit did not renew his contract.
After several weeks of recovery, he returned to training and, eventually, racing. He placed second overall at the Tour of Utah after finishing 17th at the Tour de France.
The American was on track to defend his Vuelta title before his team pulled him last minute from its race roster.
Up until recently, there had been speculation that Horner might not be able to land a contract for 2015 — and might even have to retire from pro cycling.
Horner turned 43 years old on Oct. 23.
His career spans nearly 20 years, and he’s ridden on several teams. He rode in Europe with Française des Jeux in 1997, but after a couple of challenging seasons he moved back to race in the US.
He rode domestically with Mercury, Prime Alliance, Saturn, and Webcor Builders.
Horner eventually returned to Europe to race with Saunier Duval-Prodir, Davitmon-Lotto, Astana, RadioShack, and Lampre-Merida.
“Chris Horner has done it all,” said Airgas-Safeway team boss Chris Johnson. “This is not only a huge development for our program, but also for cycling fans in the US.
“To be able to give a group of young riders the chance to race with a champion like Horner is a dream come true on so many levels,” he said.
Horner’s major results include victories at the Tour de Langkawi (2000), Tour de Georgia (2003), Tour of the Basque Country (2010), Tour of California (2011), and the Vuelta a España (2013).
He has won stages in the Vuelta, Tour de Suisse, Tour of California, and other major races.
“2015 is shaping up to be a fun year with great racing and more time at home with my family, including the new baby we have on the way in January,” Horner said. “I can’t wait to race with a group of excited young pros — their enthusiasm will make the season fun and exciting.”
The Airgas-Safeway Cycling Team is made up of 16 riders and will start the season in January with a training camp in California.
Horner was born in Okinawa, Japan. He has homes in Bend, Oregon, and San Diego, California.