For cycling teams, the off-season is a chance to recover and start preparing for the next season.
One of the preparations for a season is the squad, and so professional teams begin to recruit riders.
However, not all riders are able to get a contract, and in this article, we look at four stars who have not yet signed a contract with a professional team.
1) Christopher Horner
The 42-year-old American won the Vuelta, one of cycling's three Grand Tours, to become the first American winner of a Grand Tour since Greg LeMond in 1990. However, with the Vuelta win, Horner obviously believes he should receive a much higher wage, and as a result, he is too expensive for most teams, and the rest are simply not prepared to pay so much for a man of his age.
Horner is also questioned by critics about his shady past and whether his Vuelta win was due to illegal performance enhancing drugs. In the past, Horner has offered support to infamous doper Lance Armstrong, and having raced in the professional peloton during the doping era, there is a lot of suspicion. He is also allegedly the redacted name labeled as rider 15 in USADA’s Reasoned Decision, although Horner denies this.
Horner declared that he wishes to continue racing for at least another two years, but as it stands at the moment, he will not be racing at all.
2) Juan Jose Cobo
Juan Jose Cobo is another former Vuelta winner who has not received a contract yet. The Spaniard won the Tour of Spain in 2011, beating Chris Froome in an epic duel with Geox-TMC. However, since moving to Movistar, Juanjo Cobo has struggled, and has not recorded a single victory in the last two years.
Like Horner, there are suspicions regarding Cobo's Vuelta win, especially considering Cobo's lack of victories prior to La Vuelta and his dominant display on the Alto de l'Angliru. He has struggled since, while his main competitor in the 2011 Vuelta, Chris Froome, has established himself as the best stage race rider in the world and perhaps one of the best ever.
This is not the first time Cobo has considered retiring. Between 2007 and 2011, Cobo suffered from depression and considered quitting the sport. Maybe this year he will indeed call it quits.
3) Luis Leon Sanchez
Sanchez is another rider who is marred by doping allegations. His name appears many times in the Operacion Puerto doping case, and this is the reason why Belkin refused to give him a new contract for 2014.
Nonetheless, Sanchez is close to signing a deal with Continental team Caja Rural.
4) Samuel Sanchez
'Samu' did have a contract until 2015. However, with his team, Euskatel-Euskadi folding, he is without a contract.
The 35-year-old, who won the men's road race at the 2008 Summer Olympics, has nowhere to go at the moment.
A move to Belgian outfit Wanty is possible but there is still a lot of negotiations that needs to take place.
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