French team looking for more success in the final Grand Tour
The Ag2r-La Mondiale team has named its squad for the Vuelta a Espana, with Colombia's Carlos Betancur and Italian climber Domenico Pozzovivo expected to lead the team in the mountainous Grand Tour.
Also in the nine-rider squad are Julien Berard, Steve Chainel, Ben Gastauer, Lloyd Mondory, Matteo Montaguti and Rinaldo Nocentini. Ag2r-La Mondiale had a difficult 2012 season but has performed consistently well in 2013, with Christophe Riblon winning the prestigious stage of the Tour de France to l'Alpe d'Huez. During the Tour de France, Ag2r confirmed its sponsorship of the team until 2016.
Betancur is just 23 but finished fifth overall in the Giro d'Italia and won the best young rider's white jersey. He has had taken a long series of impressive placing this season but failed to land a major victory despite being aggressive. He was third at Fleche Wallonne and fourth at Liege-Bastogne Liege and also finished second on three occasions at the Giro d'Italia.
Pozzovivo will also be looking to make up for missing out on success so far this season. He was tenth overall in the Giro d'Italia and showed some form by finishing seventh overall in the recent Tour of Poland.
Both Betancur and Pozzovivo are suited to the mountain-packed route of this year's Vuelta and could challenge for the red race leader's jersey against Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Ivan Basso (Cannondale).
The final Grand Tour of the season begins in the western Galicia region of Spain on Saturday August 24.