Sunday's French national road race carried huge Tour de France consequences for the AG2R La Mondiale team after Warren Barguil (Arkea Samsic) took the title ahead of Cofidis riders Julien Simon and Damien Touze. A crash that involved AG2R's Tony Gallopin and Benoit Cosnefroy took the pair out of contention for the title and left the riders' Tour participation in question, while a lacklustre performance from Pierre Latour as he returns from injury caused the team to replace him on the roster with Alexis Vuillermoz.
"After talking with Pierre Latour, we decided that it was more reasonable to replace him for the next Tour de France," said Team Manager Vincent Lavenu. "He has been struggling since returning to the competition, and it would have been very risky to send him to a race like the Tour de France."
Latour said he was not disappointed with the team's decision.
"It's better like this. I was not in a good enough condition during the Tour de Suisse, and that was confirmed today at the French championships," he said. "At the Tour, I would not be worth anything to the team. This absence will allow me to continue training well with the goal to be better at the end of the season and the Vuelta."
Vuillermoz was obviously excited about the opportunity to compete in his sixth Tour after finishing the Giro in May.
"After the Giro d'Italia, I started training quickly again," he said. "I did have being selected for the Tour team in mind, and I am very honoured that the team trusts me. During the month of June, I re-found great sensations that I have not had for a long time in training. I am going to the start in order to work for the team to the maximum, and hopefully to take my chances when the opportunity arises.”
In the same race on Sunday, team stalwarts Gallopin and Cosnefroy were caught up in a crash with Aurélien Paret-Paintre and suffered a variety of injuries. The team said a decision would be made later Sunday on whether they would be able to start the Tour on July 6 in Brussels.
"Tony Gallopin suffered left elbow wounds that required stitches, but also multiple superficial wounds on the left side and a trauma to the left calf," said Dr. Eric Bouvat, medical director of the AG2R La Mondiale team. "Benoît Cosnefroy was taken care of by the medical service of the French championship organisers and suffers from road rash of the right shoulder, elbow and hip."
The team also rounded out its final eight-rider provisional Tour roster with Alexis Gourgeard after announcing the initial seven on June 20.
"Alexis has returned to his best level, which he confirmed after spending the day at the front of the race of the French championships," Lavenu said. "This earned him the chance to return to the Tour de France. He has found an exceptional level of form. He is a great rider, able to be strong in the middle mountain stages, and he has an exceptional team spirit."
Gougeard said he had proven his form is good since the beginning of the season and he was happy to have earned a spot.
"I wanted to prove that I had my place," he said. "I have great memories of my participation in the 2016 Tour where I worked very well with Romain. I have been frustrated not to participate in the last two editions, but I simply did not have a high enough level. I want to prove that the team has been right to choose me. That means I want to be an important asset for the stages in general, but also for the time trial."
AG2R La Mondiale for the Tour de France: Romain Bardet, Mickaël Cherel, Benoît Cosnefroy, Mathias Frank, Tony Gallopin, Alexis Gougeard, Oliver Naesen, Alexis Vuillermoz
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