French team AG2R La Mondiale held its official presentation in Paris on Wednesday. The squad managed by Vincent Lavenu will this year be the only French outfit featuring ProTeam status, and it intends to live up to it.
"We are proud and honoured to remain in the top division of cycling," said Lavenu to the gathered press at the team sponsor's headquarters. "We will participate in the entire World Calendar and want to shine in all events." Last year, the team scored 18 victories, and showed "a beautiful team spirit throughout the year."
With seven new riders added to its roster after eight riders left the squad, AG2R comprises a team of 27 men from six different nations. While of course the vast majority of the team is French, the outfit's star rider and 2011 leader will be Nicolas Roche, whose 2010 season has made him step up to yet another level.
The 26-year-old finished 15th in the Tour de France and seventh in the Vuelta. "He still has to break through completely," said Lavenu about the Irishman, who speaks fluent French. "But he has the physical capacity and mental force. He is our future star, and it is up to us to make him reach the highest level. In the future, he will be able to go for a podium place in a Grand Tour."
The son of Irish cycling legend Stephen Roche will be particularly supported by the team's climbers John Gadret and Christophe Riblon, who won a stage in the Tour last year, as well as and former mountainbiker Jean-Christophe Péraud, the team's main new signing who also targets week-long stage races.
AG2R La Mondiale for 2011
Julien Bérard, Guillaume Bonnafond, Maxime Bouet, Dimitri Champion, Mickaël Chérel, Cyril Dessel, Hubert Dupont, John Gadret, Sébastien Hinault, Steve Houanard, Blel Kadri, Yuriy Krivtsov, David Le Lay, Romain Lemarchand, Julien Loubet, Sébastien Minard, Lloyd Mondory, Jean-Christophe Péraud, Mathieu Perget, Anthony Ravard, Christophe Riblon, Martin Elmiger (SUI), Ben Gastauer (LUX), Kristof Goddaert (BEL), Matteo Montaguti et Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA), Nicolas Roche (IRL).