AG2R La Mondiale with Different Approach in Vuelta a Espana
Compared to its successful campaign in this year's Tour de France, AG2R - La Mondiale has chosen a different approach to this year's Vuelta a Espana. Contrary to his role as general classification favorite in the Tour de France, Romain Bardet starts this year's Vuelta a Espana with the sole objective of fighting for stage victories.
"Romain will participate in two Grand Tours in the same season for the first time since turning professional in 2012. His level of condition after finishing the Tour de France in third position allows him to approach the Vuelta with confidence. His ambitions will be different from those that he went with to the Tour and he hopes to figure prominently in the stages that correspond to his strengths," AG2R sports director Julien Jurdie explained.
"After wise considerations and discussions with the staff of our team, I decided to participate in two major Tours in the same year for the first time in my career, Bardet told Roadcycling.com.
"This is an important passage for me and I am looking forward to a new race, convinced that I am now mature enough to succeed in creating beautiful things. Our team will be strong and motivated and I hope to be able to affect the race in the stages that correspond to my qualities."
Despite Bardet's goal of achieving stage victories, the AG2R - La Mondiale team will, however, not be without a general classification leader in the Vuelta. The team management has high hopes for climber Domenico Pozzovivo, who will work as team captain.
"Domenico Pozzovivo has proved this season that he had regained a position among the best riders in stage races. He has been very consistent since the beginning of the season and his return to competition at the Tour of Poland, in which he finished 6th, is a good sign that he will be a serious threat for a place in the top ten or even better at this Vuelta," Jurdie said.
The team management has also selected 24-year-old Alexis Gougeard who will be allowed to compete for stage victories in selected stages. "Alexis has had a mixed season," Jurdie explained. "After working hard in July, he has proved that he has regained his high level by winning the Polynormande. We know his strengths as a very generous teammate and an aggressive rider. He can ride very hard and will be an important member of the team to protect our leaders during the nervous stages. Don’t forget that in his first participation if this race in 2015 he managed to win a stage - he could very well do so again."
Julien Duval was added to the AG2R roster after Samuel Dumoulin was recently involved in a serious crash.
"After Samuel Dumoulin crashed so hard recently, we chose to bring Julien to the Vuelta. During his first year on the team, he has proven his team spirit and his qualities as a teammate. Now is his chance to discover a three week race. He will be a very important rider in our team and his role will be to protect our leaders, especially in the second stage into Gruissan, where there could definitely be echelons forming," Jurdie said.
The team also sends Frenchmen Axel Domont, Clement Chevrier and Alexandre Geniez, Canadian Hugo Houle, and German Nico Denz to the 2017 Vuelta a Espana a part of its roster.