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Bardet and Latour heading for AG2R exit

Bardet and Latour at the 2018 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

Romain Bardet and Pierre Latour will both leave AG2R La Mondiale at the end of 2020, according to L'Equipe

The two Frenchmen are both out of contract and have long been linked with moves away from the team where they have spent the entirety of their professional careers. 

On Wednesday, L'Equipe reported that their exits are now a done deal, and that Vincent Lavenu's team are looking to reinvent themselves. They will continue to target Grand Tours but without two of their leading riders. 

Bardet has been heavily linked with a move to Team Sunweb for 2021, while L'Equipe reinforced a recent report in Le Dauphiné Libéré that Latour has already agreed to join Total Direct Energie.

"I'm not scared of what's going to happen, if one rider or another was to leave. We're looking after the future of the team. We have a project, and big ambitions," Lavenu told L'Equipe

There was, however, a suggestion of Bardet's exit when he described the 29-year-old as one of the key figures in the team's history, having twice finished on the podium of the Tour de France.

"He came from our development centre in Chambéry. We can't claim to have 'made' Romain – it's him, his family, his environment – but we're very proud to have been there with him."

Joona Laukka, agent for both riders, has yet to confirm the departures but told Cyclingnews last month that both riders were looking at offers from other teams. 

Regarding Bardet, he said the Frenchman was still waiting for AG2R to set out their 'sporting project' and that proper negotiations hadn't begun, although by that point the team had already agreed new long-term deals with Oliver Naesen and Benoît Cosnefroy.

"I'm at the key point in my career where I've acquired quite a bit of experience but I've also got some good years ahead of me to do as well as I can," Bardet said last month. 

"We're carefully thinking about what is best for me, with AG2R or with another team. I'm at a point in my career where I think it's only right to have these thoughts."

Bardet has been heavily linked with a move to Team Sunweb. Iwan Spekenbrink's outfit need a Grand Tour leader to replace Tom Dumoulin and the soon-to-depart Sam Oomen. 

Total-Direct Energie manager Jean-René Bernaudeau recently hinted he was also interested in Bardet, but it seems he will definitely have Latour in his ranks next year. The 26-year-old, who finished 11th overall and won the white jersey while supporting Bardet at the 2018 Tour de France, reportedly turned down an offer from Groupama-FDJ to join the French ProTeam squad.

While AG2R have solidified their cobbled and Ardennes Classics prospects with the extensions of Naesen and Cosnefroy, the departures of Bardet and Naesen leave them without a true stage race leader.

"The goal is not to lose leaders in the mountains and not replace them," said Lavenu. 

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