The AG2R La Mondiale riders enjoyed a full range of winter sports as they hit the French Alps for a first get together ahead of the 2019 season.
In a partnership with the Oisans regional tourism board, the end-of-November trip to Vaujany - near Alpe d'Huez - has now become customary for the French team. Although the serious training gets underway in the south of Spain next month, the first camp is a chance for preliminary plans to be put in place and for a range of team-building exercises away from the bike.
On Tuesday and again on Wednesday, the riders piled into a cable car to take the trip from the village of Vaujany at 1,250 metres up to L'Alpette at 2,050m. The main activity was cross-country skiing, and a three-kilometre course was traced out, with plenty of snow already on the mountain. Team leader Romain Bardet, a well-known fan of biathlon and friend of world and Olympic champion Martin Fourcade, was the star of the show, closely followed by Alexis Vuillermoz.
New signing Larry Warbasse, an American, was less at home, and crashed hard on his face coming down a descent on Tuesday, giving himself a black eye and a burst lip that required four stitches. On Wednesday he played it safe and strapped on snow raquettes for a less risky one-hour hike.
While Tuesday afternoon doubled as a media session - with those riders not doing interviews instead swimming, ice skating or in the gym - Wednesday was the main team-building day up the mountain. A multi-discipline relay competition was organised, seeing teams of riders first send a representative on a short ski lap, then tag in a teammate for a head-first downhill toboggan run, then another for five shots in a biathlon-style shooting range, and finally a last rider to do laps on a fat-bike depending on how many shots had been missed. While Oliver Naesen fell flat on his face, the victory was brought home by Tony Gallopin.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a full range of photos from AG2R's first winter get-together.
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