Horner signs with Astana

American Chris Horner stays in Europe, racing with Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer's composite Discovery team.

American road pro all-rounder Chris Horner will be racing for Johan Bruyneel's Team Astana in 2008, according to the team's media director.

The 36-year-old Oregon native helped Predictor-Lotto teammate Cadel Evans secure second in this year's Tour de France, managing a 15th place finish as well.

Horner, coming off arguably his finest season as a pro, had been the subject of intense speculation when it was first announced in September that he would be back racing in the States with Michael Ball's Rock Racing Team. Horner denied the deal at Interbike in Las Vegas, commenting that his current employer Predictor-Lotto didn't seem to have appreciated the work he had done for Evans' podium finish at the Tour. When Predictor signed Yaroslav Popovych from the soon-to-be-defunct Discovery Channel team, Horner said he knew the writing was on the wall.

The former Saunier Duval pro speculated that he could have been Top 10 in France this past July if he hadn't had to ride in support of Evans. However, at the age of 36, it was a hard sell to many teams, even when Horner finished a very respectable 10th at the season's final classic, the Tour of Lombardy.

At Astana, Horner will be joining fellow American Levi Leipheimer as well as 2007 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador. If Andreas Kloden re-signs with the team, there could be three Tour podium finishers on the squad, which will most likely mean domestique duties for Horner in July. That's probably okay with Horner, especially if they give him the freedom to go hunting for that elusive Tour stage win.

The outspoken father of three enters his 12th season as a professional. Astana will be his eighth team. Terms of the agreement were not available.

© BikeRadar 2007

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