The French team has confirmed to the l’Equipe newspaper that Domenico Pozzovivo and Colombia’s Carlos Alberto Betancur will lead the nine-rider team. Also in the squad are Italian sprinter Davide Appollonio (who rode for Team Sky in 2011 and 2012) plus fellow Italian and former Giro d’Italia stage Manuel Belletti. Julien Berard, Guillaume Bonnafond, Hubert Dupont, Ben Gastauer and Sylvain Georges complete the line-up.
Ag2r-La Mondiale struggled in 2012 and almost lost its place in the UCI WorldTour. Team manager Vincent Lavenu shook things up and signed 11 new riders, including Pozzovivo, Betancur and Appollonio. The French riders have also performed well, with Biel Kadri winning the Roma Maxima race in March with a solo move that held off the peloton.
Betancur won the GiroBio in 2010 and made his Giro d’Italia debut in 2011 with Acqua & Sapone. He has improved considerably this spring with third place at Fleche-Wallonne after bravely attacking early on the climb to the finish, and fourth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He may not be an overall contender for the maglia rosa but could win hilly stages early in the Giro d’Italia.
Pozzovivo crashed out of the Giro del Trentino, suffering minor fractures to two ribs and needing some stitches in his right elbow. Those injuries will affect his final build-up to the Giro but the Italian climber seems to have settled in well at the French team. He finished eighth overall in the 2102 Giro and won a mountain stage.