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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Friday, August 22, 2014

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Chris Horner Will Not Start Vuelta

Chris Horner, the defending Vuelta a España champion, will not be on the start line Saturday. Horner has been plagued with bronchitis since at least the Tour de France and was given cortisone to treat the malady.

This was OK, the UCI gave him a Therapeutic Use Exemption and he was given approval to race.

The treatment caused a drop in his cortisol levels, levels that under UCI rules still allowed him to race. But Lampre-Merida is part of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), and under MPCC guidelines, his cortisol was too low to allow him to race. Lampre has removed Horner form its lineup and replaced him with Valerio Conti.

Here is Lampre-Merida's press release detailing its voluntary withdrawal of its star:

Christopher Horner will unfortunately not take part in the 2014 Vuelta.
Valerio Conti will take his place in his debut in a grand tour.

As the blue-fuchsia-green team are part of the MPCC organization, it has been necessary for a change of program.

Even though Horner would be allowed to start the race as far as the UCI is concerned, however the team are obliged to respect the rules and the regulation of the MPCC organization in which it is a member on complete voluntary decision.

The team's head of medical staff, Dr Carlo Guardascione, explains the situation in more detail: "After the finish of Tour de France and after the Tour of Utah where the athlete was still suffering from bronchitis, Chris Horner underwent two examinations by two specialists for his bronchitis as he had been suffering since the beginning of the Tour de France as well as during the Tour of Utah, both specialists agreed that a treatment of cortisone by oral means was the only way to resolve this problem, all the necessary steps were taken to request a TUE (therapeutical use exemption), this authorization was given by UCI commission for the athlete to proceed with this therapy on the 15.08.2014.

Physiologically this treatment can cause a lowering of the cortisol together with other factors such as jet lag after his travel from United States where he had a time difference of 9 hours.

After the necessary UCI blood tests were taken it showed a lower cortisol level compared to the minimal level requested by the MPCC, thus the decision from the team to not allow the athlete to partake in this Vuelta even with having all the necessary UCI authorisation in order".

With this decision, the team reaffirms his adherence to the principles underlying the MPCC organization, agreeing to respect the rules and regulations and not to allow the athlete to start the Vuelta even though this being an important appointment for the athlete after an investment had been made on behalf of the team.

Horner, who's going to spend the day training with his team mates, commented: "Of course I'm sad about this news. I was willing to try to defend the 2013 title, Vuelta was my main target in the season, the team signed my with the aim of being competitive in the Spanish race, but I accept the decision linked to the MPCC's rules.

"This bad bronchitis caused me a lot of problems, I've been suffering for it for weeks and this treatment could have allowed me to solve the problem.
UCI gave authorization for the treatment, I could race according UCI rules, but my team is member of MPCC, I understand it and we all must accept this situation without regrets."

Chris Horner

Chris Horner after the final stage of the 2013 Vuelta wearing the leader's red jersey. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC for the Vuelta

For the detail minded, here's BMC's press release with a complete list of riders and team staffing for the Vuelta:

BMC Racing Team Reveals Vuelta a España Roster

Past Vuelta a España podium placers Cadel Evans and Samuel Sánchez headline the BMC Racing Team's roster for the final grand tour of the season.

Two Protected Riders
Evans finished third in his last appearance in the Spanish race in 2009, following up on a fourth-place finish in 2007. The past world road champion (2009) and Tour de France winner (2011) is coming off back-to-back stage wins and a sixth place finish overall at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Sánchez was runner-up in 2009 and third in 2007, while winning three stages. The 2008 Olympic road race champion also counts a third-place finish at the 2010 Tour de France among his 14 grand tour appearances. BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said Sánchez will be the team's leader. "Cadel will also be a protected rider, like we did for Samuel at the Giro d'Italia," Piva said. "Samuel is an experienced rider, he knows the parcours and he is super motivated. Cadel comes out of Utah very strong, which will be very important. And we cannot forget Philippe Gilbert, who specializes in the uphill finishes. So we will try to win a stage with him." Gilbert, the 2012 world road champion, is owner of five stage wins at the Vuelta. The 3,239-kilometer race begins Saturday with a team time trial and concludes Sept. 14 with a 9.7-kilometer individual time trial.

BMC Racing Team Vuelta a España Roster (Aug. 23-Sept. 14):
Rohan Dennis (AUS), Cadel Evans (AUS), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Steve Morabito (SUI), Dominik Nerz (GER), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Larry Warbasse (USA), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

President/General Manager:
Jim Ochowicz (USA)

Andy Rihs (SUI)

Sporting Manager:
Allan Peiper (AUS)

Sport Directors:
Fabio Baldato (ITA)
Valerio Piva (ITA)

Scott Major (USA)
Roger Palfreeman (GBR)

Bus Driver: Andoni Sanchez (ESP). Chef: Walter Grözinger (GER). Mechanics: Antonio Biron (ITA), Alessandro Gaia (ITA), Jürgen Landrie (BEL), Georg Van Oudenhove (BEL), Thierry Viaene (FRA). Nutritionist: Judith Haudum (AUT). Performance: Marco Pinotti (ITA). Press Officers: Andrea Agostini (ITA), Georges Lüchinger (LIE). Soigneurs: Marcello Bartoli (BEL), Dirk Leenaert (BEL), Marc Paeme (BEL), Stefano Rubino (ITA), Freddy Viaene (BEL).


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