Who will throw Chris Horner a life preserver?
The world’s oldest grand tour winner — of this year’s Helta Skelta Vuelta — is still without a team that can afford his price tag. Of course, that tag is shrinking fast, as in Thomas de Gendt 80% pay cut fast.
What about good old Viatcheslav Ekimov? The director sportif for Katusha and once a member of the “most sophisticated doping program in sports” should be willing to help out a fellow old timer from the good old days.
Lance Armstrong always held up Ekimov as the consummate professional when the two were in the EPO-fueled US Postal squad. The Russian is one of the few guys with a career that goes as far back as Horner.
Now let’s remember that Ekimov is a Lance guy to the bitter end, keeping the mouth shut, never spitting in the soup like Hincapie, Vande Velde and Zabriskie — those loose-lipped Americans. Let’s also remember the loyal statements from Horner about riding with Lance during the comeback years at Astana. Horner was vocal in his never-saw-no-funny-business-ever quotes. He was in the witch hunt camp — why are they trying to go after Armstrong?
So we’re kinda wondering why good old Ekimov over at deep-pockets Katusha doesn’t scrounge around for some extra money for good old Chris Horner? That pocket rocket Joaquim Rodriguez could use some extra legs in the mountains and if Horner is healthy, he’s a solid Plan B in a grand Tour.
Everybody knows that Chris is a swell guy, a tactical genius and a loyal team player and money never seems to be much of an object at Katusha. We’re thinking that the Global Russian Cycling Shindig needs the Smiler on board.
Even if the team roster is full, hey, this is still Russia. Ekimov simply boots some junior kid back down, no explanation necessary. You think Vladimir Putin needs an excuse to do whatever he wants? One word from Eki and Horner is headed to Moscow for a few vodka shots and new contract.
As Andrew Hood noted in his Velonews story on Horner, it’s No Country For Old Men and in fact we think we used the same movie analogy a few months back. Old men have to stick together in these hard times and so we’re wondering why Eki hasn’t called Horner.