Romain Bardet will lead an AG2R La Mondiale team based around his GC ambitions at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Bardet has finished on the podium at the eight-day race twice during his career and won a stage in 2015. The Critérium du Dauphiné has attracted a world class field this year with three-time winner Chris Froome leading Team Ineos, and Richie Porte (Trek Segagredo), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) set to compete.
"The Critérium du Dauphiné is an important time in our season, and we are approaching it, of course, with ambitions," Vincent Lavenu confirmed in press release issued by his team.
"The whole team feels very attached to this race; it's linked to our culture, our history, its place in the history and legends of cycling, as well as our own results here.
"We are still three weeks away from the Tour de France, but we have always felt it is important to be successful at this race."
Bardet, 28, has enjoyed a consistent start to the season, despite not winning a race. He was fifth overall at Paris-Nice, second at the Tour Cycliste International du Haut Var and ninth at Amstel Gold Race in April. Lavenu added that his team would be built around the French climber but the squad includes several options for stage wins. Classics specialist Oliver Naesen makes the seven-rider team, along with Clement Venturini, Alexandre Geniez, Mikael Cherel, Benoit Cosnefroy and Alexis Gougeard.
The latter has already won several times on home soil this year, while former U23 world champion Cosnefroy won Paris-Camembert earlier in the season and recently made the top step of the podium at the Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan. The Frenchman is set to make his Tour de France debut in July.
"This year again, we will be motivated to come with an undisputed leader, Romain Bardet, who has climbed twice onto the final podium, and remains capable of climbing there. We also come with other talented riders who have the ability to seize the opportunities that will arise, and go for stage wins," Lavenu added.
"The team is in shape, and the backbone of the Dauphiné group has recently completed an excellent altitude camp in Sierra Nevada. They were well supervised by a highly trained staff and invested a lot in the efforts. We know that by optimizing the preparation of all our riders, we are giving ourselves the best possible chance to fulfill our greatest ambitions.
AG2R La Mondiale for the Critérium du Dauphiné: Romain Bardet, Mikael Cherel, Benoit Cosnefroy, Alexandre Geniez, Alexis Gougeart, Oliver Naesen.
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