Before the team presentation had even started on Friday, the reigning Vuelta a Espana champion, Chris Horner, had withdrawn from the race; along with his hopes to defend his title aged 42.
His team Lampre-Merida decided to drop Horner after his Cortisone levels contravened the requirements of their voluntary agreement with anti-doping programme MPCC; a result of Cortisone use in an attempt to cure Bronchitis. This story highlights the differences between UCI and voluntary anti-doping schemes within professional cycling, as Chris Horner had already received a therapeutical use exemption certificate which would have allowed him to ride the Vuelta in the eyes of the UCI.
For more information regarding the withdrawal, please read the official team statement here: Team Press Release
Another note in relation to this story is Theo Bos’ withdrawal ahead of last year’s Vuelta due to similarly low cortisol levels, these also contravened the same MPCC regulations as Horner.
While on the topic of sickly riders, another rumour currently circulating is a possible illness affecting Thibaut Pinot who has recently failed to train due to a high temperature.