By Andrew Hood
American rider Chris Horner, who lit up the 2005 Tour de France with an impressive string of attacks, will leave Saunier Duval at the end of this season.
Sources told VeloNews that Horner, 33, is expected to ride with Davitamon-Lotto next season, but officials from the Belgian team could not be reached before the start of Saturday´s Clásica San Sebastian.
“I have a contract and it might be announced even today,” Horner said as he signed in for the 227km one-day classic in northern Spain.
Saunier Duval officials confirmed Horner won´t be riding with the Spanish team next year.
“For sure, Chris is leaving the team,” said Saunier Duval team manager Matxin Fernandez. “He´s not staying with us.”
Horner signed a one-year contract with the Spanish ProTour team in in his bid to return to European racing.
Horner raced in Europe in the mid- to late 1990s with FDJeux, but never found his winning legs during the three-year stint with the French team. He returned to the United States and became one of the dominant riders on the domestic circuit.
Horner finally got his wish for another shot at the European scene after joining Saunier Duval at the end of the 2004 season, evening racing the fall classics with the team. Despite a serious injury at Tirreno-Adriatico in March, Horner bounced back to win a stage at the Tour de Suisse in June.
The win secured him a spot in the 2005 Tour. A Tour rookie at 33, Horner made the most of the opportunity and worked himself into several breaks, and nearly made it to the line in the stage to Montpellier. Horner confirmed he will race at the Barclays Global Investors Grand Prix in San Francisco in September, then return to Europe to race the fall classics.