AG2R-La Mondiale team manager Vincent Lavenu has claimed he has strengthened his squad for 2013 thinking about potential results on the road, rather than the points the French team needs to stay in the UCI WorldTour.
Last year Lavenu signed Iranian rider Amir Zargari, Russia's Boris Shpilevski and Slovenia's Grega Gazvoda to take advantage of their points scored in the Asia Continental circuit. Those precious points ensured the French secured a UCI WorldTour place and so automatic invitations to all the WorldTour races.
In a major turnover of riders for 2013, leader Nicolas Roche will leave the team. New signing so far confirmed are Steve Chainel, Tauheni Hutarovich, Davide Appollonio, Samuel Dumoulin, Carlos Betancur, Domenico Pozzovivo and Julian Kern.
Sébastien Hinault, Martin Elmiger, Kristoff Goddaert and Romain Lemarchand will also leave at the end of the year.
"I had no choice but to call international riders to stay in the first division. It's the UCI rules that dictate our choices to some extent. But I don't want to repeat the experience," Lavenu told l’Equipe.
"The season is not over and we're not sure of keeping our place in the first division. I think we're sixteenth or seventeenth-ranked, which doesn't guarantee anything. But one thing is clear now: I am no longer going to chase exotic (international) riders."
"This time we were more careful and responsive before the market blocked up. We took opportunities when they arose. UCI points are important but I wanted to focus more on the results. I can't hide from the fact that we haven't had a great season. That that's why we need to win now, at the end of the season."
AG2R-La Mondiale has only won four races this season – none of then in the WorldTour. Sebastien Hinault won the Boucles de l'Aulne and a stage at the Circuit de Lorraine, Manuel Belletti won a stage at the Route du Sud and Sylvain Geroge won the stage to Big Bear Lake at the Tour of California. Roche finished twelfth overall at the Tour de France.
"I think I've made rational recruits," Lavenu claimed. "Riders like Pozzovivo and Betancur can fit well with Gadret or Peraud. There are not incompatibilities. Wiggins and Froome proved that you can finish first and second at the Tour de France. The important thing is to stay in the first division."
The UCI will make a first decision on 2013 WorldTour teams on November 1st, with the final list of teams expected later in November.
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