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By Matt Pacocha
With the news of Chris Horner joining fellow American Levi Leipheimer at Astana just hours old, another staple of American cycling also has also been linked to Kazakh team — Trek Bicycles.
“We’ve definitely looked at it,” said Scott Daubert, Trek’s former Discovery Team Liaison and current road bike brand manager. “Johan Bruyneel was here right after the Tour of Missouri two months ago.”
With the Discovery Channel sponsorship concluding in 2007, Trek officials knew they needed something else for next season. Daubert said Trek had three options: quickly find a ProTour team; take a year off; or refocus with a smaller American program.
“We’re still kind of here and there,” Daubert said. “It’s really late to be jumping on board with somebody. But we had been with Johan forever and ever and it was hard to go and look at other teams. We did have some other discussions with other teams that we liked, but those doors have since shut.”
According to Daubert, there are currently between 10 and 14 ProTour teams with no bike sponsorship agreements for 2009. Should Trek choose to take a year’s leave of absence from the ProTour, it could give the company “pick of the litter,” Daubert said, for the 2009 season. The Astana deal, however, is still on the table for 2008. The clock is ticking, however, as the team must file sponsorship paperwork with the UCI before the end of the month.
For now, Daubert couldn’t say which way Trek will go.