AG2R-La Mondiale have named the final three riders who will complete their Tour de France line-up. The French team confirmed the majority of the squad that will support Romain Bardet last week, waiting until the national championships to add the remaining three riders.
Ben Gastauer, Jan Bakelants and Cyril Gautier were the lucky three with Samuel Dumoulin named as a reserve rider. If he is not needed to step up to the team, it will only be the third time that he has not raced at the Tour de France during hid long career.
Also backing Bardet at the Tour are Pierre Latour, Alexis Vuillermoz, Oliver Naesen, Mathias Frank and Axel Domont. Bardet's right-hand man and good friend Mikael Cherel is a notable absence due to a hairline fracture to his pelvis following a crash during a training camp.
With the naming of Gastauer, Bakelants and Gautier, AG2R-La Mondiale put almost all the team's eggs in the Bardet basket. Bakelants is a former stage winner at the Tour de France, taking a victory during the 2013 race and spending time in the yellow jersey. With seven Tour de France already under his belt, Gautier is the most experienced of the nine riders. Gastauer has already raced the Giro d'Italia this season, but the team is happy with his recovery from the event and named him for his fourth Tour de France.
Bardet is the team's sole general classification rider. The Frenchman finished second overall at the 2016 Tour de France following a solo victory on Mont Blanc in the final week. Bardet has brushed away any assertions that he is targeting a specific result at the Tour next month, saying that he prefers to focus on his performance rather than the end result but French hopes for overall success sit on his shoulders.
"I'm not riding to win the Tour. I'm riding for my best performance," Bardet told Liberation last week.
"I prefer the sense of accomplishment to the result. Cycling is an equation with too many unknowns: I could very well be stronger than last year but finish a long way off the podium because I'll have lacked luck. In such a case, I wouldn't have any regrets because I'd have done my best."
AG2R La Mondiale for the Tour de France: Romain Bardet, Pierre Latour, Alexis Vuillermoz, Oliver Naesen, Mathias Frank, Axel Domont, Ben Gastauer, Jan Bakelants and Cyril Gautier.
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