French WorldTour team AG2R La Mondiale has named its eight-rider team for the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders. The same eight-riders will also line up at the 1.HC Scheldeprijs next week. The team will be missing Johan Vansummeren with the Belgian sidelined due to a heart problem while Alexis Gougeard has been struck down by illness.
AG2R La Mondiale's squad is bolstered by the selection of classics specialists Sébastien Turgot and Damien Gaudin. A year on from being knocked off his bike by a Shimano neutral service vehicle that resulted in a DNF and broken collarbone, Jesse Sergent returns to De Ronde.
Sébastien Minard was the best of the AG2R La Mondiale team last year in 89th place while Gaudin featuring the day-long breakaway that also contained Sergent who rode with Trek Factory Racing last year. The team will look to Canadian Hugo Houle for representation in the breakaway on Sunday.
"I stayed all week long at my French home in Saint-Restitut, in Provence," Houle said of his preparation for the race. "I trained well and I rested. I feel great and it’s important because Ronde is mentally and physically a war. I have to ride more aggressively than during the first Belgian classics."
Houle has ridden the past three editions of the Tour of Flanders but explained he is still excited by the build up, particularly with the race enjoying its 100th birthday.
"The days before is a special feeling, like a mix of stress and excitement to participate to one of the greatest races of cycling," said the 25-year-old who will make his second appearance at the Giro d'Italia next month.
Nico Denz, 22, and Maxime Daniel, 24, both make their debuts at Flanders while Gediminas Bagdonas makes a fourth appearance and completes the squad.
AG2R La Mondiale for Tour of Flanders and Scheldeprijs: Gediminas Bagdonas, Maxime Daniel, Nico Denz, Damien Gaudin, Hugo Houle, Sébastien Minard, Jesse Sergent and Sébastien Turgot.
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