2017 WorldTour teams preview: AG2R La Mondiale
Jan 14 2017 10:03 pm CET

2017 WorldTour teams preview: AG2R La Mondiale

With just a few days to go until the start of the 2017 UCI WorldTour season, we're nearing the end of our WorldTeams previews. Today it's the turn of AG2R La Mondiale.

The team, one of two French WorldTour formations, has made some significant changes to its rosters with ten departures and nine new arrivals. However, its star rider Romain Bardet will continue to form part of the squad.

The runner-up of the 2016 Tour de France has once again set his sights on the year's most important race although he doesn't want to put too much pressure on himself as he aims to repeat last year's performance.

"As with past seasons, the Tour de France will be the objective with the highest priority for the season. In coming to that decision, we had a serious discussion with the team management and my coach to talk about the stakes involved and to put everything into perspective," the Frenchman said in December.

"I am not really thinking in terms of targeted numbers or placings, but in quality of performance. I know that my second place from last season will generate high expectations, but I am not going to get fixated on that," he added.

Bardet will not take part in the Giro despite considering the possibility for a while, but will make his appearance in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Paris-Nice, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Criterium du Dauphine.

Veteran Samuel Dumoulin (36) also continues with the team and will aim to bring across his experience to help younger riders develop and get good results.

Another source of experience is Domenico Pozzovivo. The Italian will start his fifth season at AG2R and should be able to get some top-ten results in shorter stage races.

One of the most exciting prospects at AG2R is without a doubt Pierre Latour. At just 22, the Frenchman won the killing stage to the Alto de Aitana in the 2016 Vuelta a España. In addition, he won the Young rider classification at the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium International and finished third at the Tour de l'Ain.

Latour's preparation for the upcoming season wasn't exactly perfect as the rider broke a bone in his right hand in December, but the injury shouldn't affect his form too much in the longer run.

While a relatively large number of riders (including Johan Vansummeren, Biel Kadri and Jesse Sergent) left the team, AG2R has also managed to bring in a number of useful riders.

Swiss Mathias Frank joins AG2R from the now defunct IAM Cycling, as do Belgian Oliver Naesen, Frenchman Clement Chevrier and Norwegian Sondre Holst Enger. The latter gained fame by dancing on the podium during trophy ceremonies, and both he and the team will hope to see such scenes during the 2017 season.

Naesen was IAM's principal collector of WorldTour points (162), which at AG2R would have made him the second most successful rider after Bardet. His new team will hope for a similar result this year in order to improve from its 13th place in last year's UCI WorldTour team ranking. To compare; with Naesen's points they would have finished in eighth position.

A top five position in this year's team rankings shouldn't be expected from AG2R but with Bardet, Naesen, Pozzovivo and Latour at their disposal, an improvement from last year should certainly be possible.

The complete roster

Gediminas Bagdonas
Jan Bakelants
Rudy Barbier
Romain Bardet
Julien Bérard
François Bidard
Mikaël Chérel
Clément Chevrier
Nico Denz
Axel Domont
Samuel Dumoulin
Hubert Dupont
Julien Duval
Sondre Holst Enger
Mathias Frank
Ben Gastauer
Cyril Gautier
Alexandre Geniez
Alexis Gougeard
Hugo Houle
Quentin Jauregui
Pierre Latour
Matteo Montaguti
Oliver Naesen
Nans Peters
Domenico Pozzovivo
Christophe Riblon
Stijn Vandenbergh
Alexis Vuillermoz
Image: AG2R La Mondiale logo





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