Chris Horner is lined up to race the Tour d’Azerbaidjan with his new Airgas-Safeway team in early May.
After missing out on an invitation to the Amgen Tour of California, Horner’s Airgas-Safeway team will race the five-day event, May 6-10, in the up-and-coming Asian nation also making cycling inroads.
Horner, 44, has yet to race this season, so the Azerbaidjan could well be the 2013 Vuelta a España champion’s season debut.
“I’m really looking forward to the race in May, and I’m excited to visit Azerbaidjan,” said Horner in a press release. “Over my 20 years as a professional cyclist I have had the opportunity to compete all over the world and it is always fun racing in new places and experiencing different cultures.”
The team, along with Team Novo Nordisk, will be the first U.S.-based team to appear in the Tour d’Azerbaidjan.
Horner raced an injury-plagued 2014 season with Lampre-Merida, and was unable to land with a WorldTour-level team. He joined the start-up Airgas-Safeway with ambitions of racing and helping younger cyclists.
Local officials were tickled to have a rider of Horner’s caliber lining up for their event.
“It is great to see that Horner is participating in our race,” said Farhad Aliyev, secretary of the federation, in a press release. “It is an honor to have riders with such a high profile in our race, not only for the race itself, moreover for the spectators along the road, the media and journalists from all over the world, the other teams and also for the motivation of the organizers staff.”
Other top teams include: Drapac Professional Cycling (Australia), Androni Giocattoli (Italy), RUSVELO (Russia), and Team Novo Nordisk (USA).
Other teams include: Synergy Baku Cycling Project, Adria Mobil (Slovenia), An Post-Chain Reaction (Ireland), LEOPARD Development Team (Luxembourg), Giant-Champion System (China), Tusnad (Romania), MLP Team Bergstrasse (Germany), Cycling Academy Team p/b Peter Sagan (Israel), Banska Bystrica (Slovakia), Torku Sekerspor (Turkey), CCN Cycling Team (Laos), Hrinkow Advarics (Austria), Team Tavira (Portugal), Parkhotel Valkenburg (Netherlands), Dukla Praha (Czech Republic) and MINSK Cycling Club (Belarus). National teams will represent Hungary, Estonia, Greece, and Kazakhstan.