French WorldTour team AG2R-La Mondiale has announced Romain Bardet will start his 2018 season at Trofeo Laigueglia. Bardet has finished on the podium at the last two editions of the Tour de France and won a stage of the French Grand Tour for three years running.
In previous years, the 27-year-old has started his season at the Grand Prix Cycliste La Marseillaise or Tour of Oman but will change his schedule to start 2018 in Liguria at the 1.HC race on February 11. Bardet will then head to the 2.HC Ruta del Sol and the French one-day double of Faun Environnement - Classic de l'Ardèche Rhône Crussol and the Drome Classic. Swiss champion and new signing Silvan Dillier will join Bardet for the opening two races of the season.
New AG2R-La Mondiale signing Tony Gallopin will make his debut with the team at the Grand Prix Cycliste La Marseillaise on 28 January. Gallopin then heads to the Etoiles de Bessèges, a race he has finished second at for the last three year's running. He will then line out at the La Provence stage race to complete an early season block of racing in the south of France.
Belgian champion Oliver Naesen will start his season at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, followed by the Ruta del Sol, and then he will start his classics campaign with the Het Nieuwsblad.
AG2R-La Mondiale's rising star Pierre Latour meanwhile will start his season at the Australian WorldTour race double of the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in January. The French national time trial champion will be joined by Nico Denz, Nans Peters, Ben Gastauer, Matteo Montaguti and Stijn Vandenbergh.
The 20th edition of the Tour Down Under takes place 16-21 January around Adelaide, South Australia, with the one-day Cadel Evans race held 28 January in Geelong, Victoria.
Across the 2017 season, AG2r-La Mondiale won 17 races, up from eight in 2016, with Bardet's Tour stage and Domenico Pozzovivo's Tour de Suisse stage its only WorldTour victories.
With its star riders contesting events across the globe in the early months of the season, the team will be hoping for a winning start to the year and building momentum for Bardet's bid for Tour de France glory come to July.