The French team does not disappoint, laying claim to the most overall Santos Tour Down Under winners (Martin Elmiger in 2007, Simon Gerrans in 2006, Mikel Astaloza in 2003 and Gilles Maignan in 2000). Ag2r La Mondiale is the only team to have competed at every Tour Down Under since the race's inception in 1999.
Laurent Biondi, Team Manager, Ag2r La Mondiale said that the team is going into the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under with a highly ambitious group.
"Our first objective will be to win a stage. Moreover, we will try to put a rider in the top 10. We know it will be difficult because the level of competition at the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under promises to be high with very good riders on the start list," Biondi said.
"Our team has good climbers and sprinters and we know that we can obtain a good result at this race. Elmiger has already won the Santos Tour Down Under and he will be a good captain for the team.
"We can also count on Blel Kadri who took eighth place overall in 2011 and who enjoys this race. The course suits him and he can succeed in this race, as will the rest of the team."
Kadri says he will start the 2012 race in the same frame of mind as in 2011.
"I'm highly motivated and I have the willingness to do well but my result will depend if I'm in good shape or not. The Santos Tour Down Under is the first race of the 2012 season and it's always difficult to know exactly what your physical form will be before the start of the race.
"In any case, we have a great team and we hope to do at least as well as we did at the race this year,"said Kadri.
Also lining up for the team will be new signing from Colnago-CSF-Inox, sprinter and Giro d'Italia stage winner Manuel Belletti. The Italian's 2011 got off to a great start with four wins, including stages at the Tour of Turkey and the Brixia Tour before being forced to take a backseat due to the form of Sacha Modolo. The Australian event will no doubt be the perfect opportunity to return to winning form.
Ag2r La Mondiale's team for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under: Martin Elmiger, Manuel Belletti, Kristof Goddaert, Blel Kadri, Romain Lemarchand, Matteo Montaguti and Boris Shpilevskiy.