Like several other WorldTour teams, Ag2r-La Mondiale has headed to Spain for their December training camp, setting up base in Oliva, on the Valencia coast, not far from other teams in Calpe and Denia.
The French squad will stay in Oliva until December 18, covering approximately 1200km in training as the team prepares for their 2015 season debut at the Tour Down Under on January 20.
Jean-Christophe Peraud, Romain Bardet, Carlos Betancur and Domenico Pozzovivo again stand out as team leaders at Ag2r-La Mondiale. New signings include Jan Bakelants and Johan Vansummeren but the focus remains on stage races and especially the Tour de France after Peraud's podium place and Bardet's impressive sixth place overall at just 24 years old.
Ag2r-La Mondiale confirmed their strength in depth by winning the team classification at the Tour de France ahead of Belkin and Movistar. The team was also in the top three of the UCI WorldTour until August but slipped to a final place of seventh after a quiet Vuelta a España and end of season.
Team manager Vincent Lavenu confirmed that French insurance company Ag2r-La Mondiale has agreed to sponsor the team until 2018, allowing him to build and plan for the future. Bardet is signed to Lavenu's team until 2018 and Lavenu opted to retain Betancur despite the Colombian putting on weight and mysteriously missing the middle part of the season.
"For us, the new season begins in Oliva," Lavenu said in a statement from the team as the riders trained in the mild-weather and sun of Valencia.
"This training camp is very important. It is the biggest of our camps in terms of training and logistics. The team rides almost 1200km. Important technical work is carried out with our partners too, while sports directors and coaches organise meetings with riders and staff."
Ag2r-La Mondiale is set to continue to race in their distinctive brown and white kit in 2015.
"The team hasn't change very much. We have the same leaders and we signed the teammates who did such a great job last year," Lavenu explained.
"With the arrival of 2011 Paris-Roubaix Johan Vansummeren, our chances in the Classics will hopefully increase. Jan Bakelants could win major races too. Two young French riders Quentin Jauregi and Pierre-Roger Latour have joined the team, while another rookie, Nico Denz, will join us in August.
"This team has huge potential. We voluntarily chose to insist on stage races and mountain rather than on sprinters. We will see soon if we are right."
Ag2r-La Mondiale revealed where each of their riders will make their season debut in 2015, with Betancur starting off in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina (Jan 19-25), Pozzovivo riding the Tour Down Under (January 20-25), while Bakelants and Vansummeren start at the Dubai Tour (February 4-7). Peraud makes his debut at the Ruta del Sol (February 18-22) along with Bardet, who will also ride the GP La Marseillaise (February 2).
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