AG2R is going to the Tour of Beijing with four riders capable of winning the race. A combination of climbers and all-rounders will keep the peloton guessing, the French team hopes.
Christophe Riblon is the top name on the line-up. The Frenchman won the 18tn stage of the Tour de France, which featured not one but two climbs of the legendary Alpe d'Huez. “His aggressive move to attack on one of the steepest climbs in the world is one of the lasting images of the centenary edition of the fabled race,” the team's press release said.
Fellow Frenchmen Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet also have good chances. Péraud was seventh overall in the race in 2011, whilst Bardet was 15th in this year's Tour de France, his first grand tour. He also won the Tour de l'Ain in August.
The team's fourth ace is Colombian Carlos Betancur, who has had an impressive WorldTour debut this year. He won the white jersey as best young rider at the Giro d'Italia and finished fifth overall. He also made his mark in the Spring Classics, as he was third in Fleche Wallonne and fourth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
AG2R sport director Julien Jurdie wouldn't designate any one of them as the captain. "As usual we will line up at the start with the aim of obtaining a top five overall and obviously get a stage win. It's difficult to appoint a single leader for them overall classification because we have several trump cards.”
He added, "This year, the course is innovative because there's no individual time-trial scheduled. It's also a selective course with three difficult stages and one of which is a summit finish after a long climb of 12kms.
All-rounder Rinaldo Nocentini might also have a role to play, while Biel Kadri and Maxime Bouet can be expected to be seen in break groups. Yauheni Hutarovich will be here for sprint finishes.
The 2013 Tour of Beijing ,the last WorldTour race of the year, runs from October 11-15. It covers 836 kilometers in five stages, and ranges from the the Great Wall to Tiananmen Square.