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2020 Team Preview: AG2R La Mondiale

AG2R La Mondiale 2020
AG2R La Mondiale 2020 (Image credit: Vincent Curutchet)

Who?

One of longest-running teams in professional cycling, AG2R were set up in 1992, as Chazal. Insurance firm AG2R La Mondiale have been title sponsor of the French team since 2000. The team are based near the Alps and run a development set-up, Chambery Cyclisme Formation, there as well.

Manager: Vincent Lavenu

Squad size: 29

Average age: 27.5

How did they fare in 2019?

Wins: 14

WorldTour ranking: 14

This team pretty much revolves around Romain Bardet, and so when the Frenchman’s Tour de France bid crumbled on the Col du Tourmalet, it largely defined the team’s season as a whole. Bardet went on to win the polka-dot jersey but was aided by the removal of two key climbs in the final two stages, and Paris was the final time he raced in 2019.

What’s more, Pierre Latour, the team’s other home star, missed a huge chunk of the season, including the Tour de France, due to a double arm break, and Tony Gallopin endured what he described as ‘the worst season of my career’.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. Oliver Naesen secured podiums at Milan-San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem, as well as a stage win and second overall at BinckBank Tour. Nans Peters claimed a Grand Tour stage win at the Giro d’Italia. Benoît Cosnefroy displayed his huge potential with wins at Paris-Camembert, GP Plumelec, Poly-Normande, and Tour du Limousin.

Key riders

Romain Bardet – The focal point of the team, Bardet has huge influence, but has lost his way since his back-to-back Tour podiums in 2016 and 2017. He’s skipping the Tour in 2020 and heading to the Giro d’Italia, as well as unlocking his one-day racing instincts by targeting the Olympics and World Championships.

It’s a huge call for a French team with a French sponsor to leave their talisman at home during July but it reflects how badly Bardet needed to shake things up in his career. With his contract set to expire at the end of 2020, this is a pivotal campaign for both parties.

Pierre Latour – In Bardet’s absence, the 26-year-old Frenchman leads the line at the Tour, where he placed 13th in 2018 while riding for Bardet. He’d impressed at every turn since beocming a professional in 2015, but injury halted his progress this year. He has a real chance to step up now.

Oliver Naesen – The leader for the Classics, Naesen has had his fair share of bad luck in the past few years but, after podiums in Sam Remo and Wevelgem, landing a big Classic is a realistic prospect.

Benoît Cosnefroy – The 24-year-old Frenchman has been highlighted as a key part of the team’s future, having graduated from the development set-up, like Bardet and Latour. He’s also been likened to Julian Alaphilippe, thanks to his aggressive, instinctive, punchy racing style.

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet will once again be the team's main man in 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Strengths

In Bardet, they have a rider who, on his day, is capable of extraordinary things. With him they can challenge for Grand Tours and also major one-day races. They also have a number of young French talents emerging, including Latour and Cosnefroy but also Nans Peters. In the Classics, they’ve been building team around Naesen and now look like a decent force in a department that was long neglected.

Weaknesses

There’s no sprinter to keep the victory tally ticking along, even if Clément Venturini has shown promise in punchy sprints. Budget restraints mean that, while they have an attractive lineup of leaders, there’s not a huge amount of strength in depth throughout the squad.

Verdict

Once again, the season will largely be defined by Bardet, but there are other young Frenchman ready to come through who could make the team less one-dimensional.

Bardet heads for the Giro while Latour takes on the huge responsibility  of Tour sole leadership. The team's season will largely hinge on how the two perform at their respective Grand Tours, given the lack of serial winners in the squad.

2020 lineup

Romain Bardet (Fra), François Bidard (Fra), Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra), Clément Champoussin (Fra), Mikaël Chérel (Fra), Clément Chevrier (Fra), Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra), Silvan Dillier (Sui), Axel Domont (Fra), Julien Duval (Fra), Mathias Frank (Sui), Tony Gallopin  (Fra), Ben Gastauer (Lux), Alexandre Geniez (Fra), Dorian Godon (Fra), Alexis Gougeard (Fra), Jaakko Hänninen (Fin), Quentin Jauregui (Fra), Pierre Latour (Fra), Lawrence Naesen (Bel), Oliver Naesen (Bel), Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Fra), Nans Peters (Fra), Harry Tanfield (GBr), Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel), Andrea Vendrame (Ita), Clément Venturini (Fra), Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra), Lawrence Warbasse (USA)