AG2R La Mondiale has named a strong group of climbers and rouleurs to support Romain Bardet at his first ever Vuelta a Espana. The team confirmed at the start of August that Bardet will make his debut at this month's Vuelta, after finishing on the podium of the Tour de France for the second year running.
"Romain will participate in two Grand Tours in the same season for the first time since turning pro in 2012," said directeur sportif Julien Jurdie. "His level of condition after finishing the Tour de France allows him to approach the Vuelta with confidence. His ambitions will be different from those that he went with to the Tour. But he hopes to figure prominently in the stages that correspond to his strengths."
The team had already confirmed five members of the line-up at the start of August but was forced to make some late changes due to injury. Alexandre Geniez and Domenico Pozzovivo will provide both experience and the core of the climbing group for Bardet. Alexis Gougeard, who won a stage of the Vuelta in 2015, is another of the riders from the original selection and will be a rider for the more rolling terrain.
Sprinter Samuel Dumoulin had been due to start but hit his head hard during a crash at the Tour de l'Ain, while Matteo Montaguti fractured his hand in a crash at the Tour de Pologne and also misses the Vuelta. Hugo Houle, Clement Chevrier, Julien Duval and Nico Denz will all be on the start line in Nimes on August 19, while Axel Domont rode with Bardet at the Tour de France and was given a late call-up to fill the remaining slot. Jurdie believes that Domont he has a shot of a stage win after his performance last year.
"Like last year, Axel will participate in two Grand Tours in the same season," said Jurdie. "He has proven over the seasons and especially during the recent Tour de France that he is a valuable teammate for the whole team. At the last Vuelta, he was close to a stage win during the 8th stage; so he can certainly win."
AG2R La Mondiale for the Vuelta a Espana: Axel Domont, Alexandre Geniez, Alexis Gougeard, Julien Duval, Romain Bardet, Domenico Pozzovivo, Hugo Houle, Nico Denz, Clement Chevrier.
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