Chris Horner could be bound for Christina Watches for 2014, according to a report Saturday in the Danish daily BT.
The newspaper reported that Horner’s agent approached Christina Watches about joining the Denmark-registered, third-division professional team for this season.
Christina Watches CEO Claus Hembo said they would need to find an additional sponsor before signing the Vuelta a España winner.
“It’s a dialogue that’s been going on for a few days and I expressed that we are interested,” Hembo told BT. “We currently don’t have the money to sign him. It would require a new sponsor worth 1.5 million [Danish krone, about $275,000). That’s not to say that would be his salary, but that’s how much we’d need.”
The 42-year-old Horner is going into the 2014 season without a signed contract, and the report reveals shows how tight the job market is for riders carrying a high price tag.
Samuel Sánchez, the 2008 Olympic champion, is another top name that remains without a job for 2014, though he’s been linked to a possible move to Tinkoff-Saxo.
In September, Horner became the first American to win the Vuelta, but soon ran into difficulty when it came to signing a deal for this season.
Team officials at Trek Factory Racing, formerly RadioShack-Leopard, said they could not afford his asking price. A deal also reportedly fell through with Fernando Alonso when his efforts to buy out the now-defunct Euskaltel-Euskadi collapsed last fall.
Alonso is regrouping to unveil a team for 2015, but that’s obviously too late to help out Horner for this coming season.
That has left Horner considering all of his options to stay active in 2014.
Christina Watches would certainly be a step down for Horner, who has raced at the WorldTour level since returning to Europe in 2005.
The team was created in 2011 as a comeback vehicle for Michael Rasmussen, the Danish climber who was kicked out of the 2007 Tour de France just days from arriving in Paris. Now 39, Rasmussen later served a two-year ban, and, earlier this year, admitted that he doped throughout most of his professional racing career.
The team won a handful of races in minor races in Asia, Africa, and Europe. It’s never participated in a grand tour.
For 2014, the team has 11 confirmed riders on the roster, including Stefan Schumacher, who was banned for EPO in 2008.