Ag2R hoping for ProTour place

By Shane Stokes

Ag2R-Prévoyance directeur sportif Vincent Lavenu has said that he is hopeful that his team will get a place in the ProTour next season. The UCI passed over the French team for a licence in cycling's new top division this year, but Lavenu is hoping that some high profile signings made this summer plus their place as leaders of the European Continental Tour will be enough to earn them the nod when the UCI makes its decision in November.

The Spaniard Francisco Mancebo and Frenchman Christophe Moreau are amongst those transferring to the squad, their fourth and eleventh places in this year's Tour de France proving that the team has some big hitters for the coming season.

Although the team missed out due to their absence from some of the ProTour events and the departure of two of their big hitters, Jaan Kirsipuu and Laurent Brochard, Ag2R Prévoyance did take two big results in the competition. Samuel Dumoulin won stage two of the Dauphiné Libéré in June while Alexandre Usov sprinted home second in the GP Ouest France two months later. They also took a total of eighteen non-ProTour wins.

Lavenu and the riders on the team are keen to step up a division, knowing that a ProTour licence would ensure Ag2R's entry into all of the big events. "As far as we are concerned, we are very capable of being a ProTour team," Lavenu told Cyclingnews. "While we don't know yet what the UCI's decision will be, we think we are worthy of a place alongside the other squads."

Ag2R are up against two others in the tussle for the vacant slot. The Silver Team S.r.l (Fassa Bortolo) had a one-year licence and so this is now up for grabs. Head honcho Giancarlo Ferretti has reapplied in an attempt to secure the slot for his new team, thought to be backed by Sony-Ericsson, while Spanish Comunidad Valenciana are the third outfit scrapping it out in the bid to be part of cycling's elite league in 2006. A final decision will be made on December 12th.

A Cyclingnews feature on the fight for this ProTour licence will appear in the next few days.

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