Calmejane signs for AG2R La Mondiale
Frenchman joins from Total Direct Energie on one-year deal
Lilian Calmejane will ride for AG2R La Mondiale next year, leaving Total Direct Energie to join the French WorldTour team on a one-year contract.
Calmejane heads in the opposite direction of Pierre Latour and Alexandre Geniez, in what has been a busy period of comings and goings at AG2R ahead of the 2021 season, when the team become AG2R Citroën Team.
Calmejane, 27, has spent the past five years of his career at Jean-René Bernaudeau's team, formerly known as Europcar, having graduated from the Vendée U feeder set-up. He has won stages at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España but felt it was time for something new.
"I have a very strong history with Vendée U and then Jean-René Bernaudeau's team, they allowed me to turn professional and I will not forget that. Still, after five years on the same team, I felt the need for a new challenge. Discovering new teammates, new equipment, new races, and winning my place in the squad too," Calemjane said.
"I am really happy to start with AG2R la Mondiale, I feel like I’m starting a new career. I know that I will find riders my age, but also younger guys who are very promising. I know the team enjoys a great dynamic and I am very much looking forward to this new challenge."
Calmejane is one of a number of new faces at AG2R for 2021, with Greg Van Avermaet, MIchael Schär, and Gijs Van Hoecke joining from CCC Team, as well as Stan Dewulf from Lotto Soudal, Marc Sarreau from Groupama-FDJ, and Damien Touzé from Cofidis. In addition to Latour and Geniez, they are losing Grand Tour leader Romain Bardet, who has signed for Sunweb.
While much of the recruitment so far has centred around the Classics department, Calmejane, who rode the cobbled Classics last year, is more of an all-rounder. He has won stage races at the Etoile des Bessèges, Settimana Coppi e Bartali, and Circuit Sarthe, as well as the one-day Paris-Camembert, and both the Ardèche and Drome Classics, and the two Grand Tour stages.
His Tour de France win came from the breakaway in the medium mountains as part of a break-out 2017 campaign that featured seven wins.
"Lilian has already shown all his potential by winning at the Vuelta but also at the Tour de France. He has a strong character and he is capable of winning at a high level," said AG2R Manager Vincent Lavenu. "He will be starting a new challenge with our AG2R Citroën Team from January 1st. I know he will be able to show all his talent when racing in our colours.”
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Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.