Warbasse signs with AG2R La Mondiale

American inks one-year deal after Aqua Blue Sport ends

French WorldTour team AG2R La Mondiale announced on Thursday it has signed former US road race champion Larry Warbasse to a one-year contract.

"I am very excited about joining the AG2R La Mondiale team. This is a great team, one of the best in the world, with a long and beautiful story, and I want to take advantage of this incredible opportunity," Warbasse said in a press release.

"I live in Nice and I will use it to continue to immerse myself in the French culture. I already know some riders with whom I have good relations in the pack. I am a pretty complete rider, both a climber and a rouleur. I hope I can contribute to some more victories.

"I will do my best to find my place, be a good teammate, enjoy the chance to ride for Romain Bardet or Oliver Naesen, and seize the opportunities for my own victories that may arise."

Warbasse was left in limbo after his current Aqua Blue Sport team folded when negotiations to merge with Verandas Willems-Crelan failed.

Rather than stress about his uncertain future, the 28-year-old embarked on a "no-go Tour" in France with teammate Conor Dunne when Aqua Blue Sport withdrew from the Tour of Britain. Their bike-packing adventure gained a lot of attention on social media, and was noticed by AG2R La Mondiale, which announced the signing on Twitter.

"After his #NoGoTour @larrywarbasse has stopped in La Motte-Servolex. He has signed a one-year contract with the team Welcome Larry!" the team tweeted.

Team manager Vincent Lavenu said he was happy to continue 'internationalizing' the team with its first American rider. "We are very pleased to have the opportunity to include Larry in our squad for 2019. He is a very good rider who has been the US champion. He’s both a rouleur and climber, and he will be able to stay with the best climbers in difficult races," Lavenu said.

Warbasse began his career in 2012 with the BMC Racing Team, and spent two more years there before moving to IAM Cycling. When that team folded, he signed with Aqua Blue Sport in 2017. That year he won a stage of the Tour de Suisse and the US title.

But Aqua Blue Sport's sudden demise left Warbasse and his teammates scrambling three weeks into the transfer season.

Irishman Eddie Dunbar was picked up by Team Sky, and will start with the team in the Coppa Agostoni. Casper Pedersen had already signed with Team Sunweb for 2019, but the rest of the team remains on the market.

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