Gallopin and Vuillermoz headline AG2R La Mondiale for Giro d'Italia
French WorldTour team line-up also features Warbasse, Gastauer and Dupont
Tony Gallopin and Alexis Vuillermoz will be the protected riders for AG2R La Mondiale when the Giro d'Italia kicks off for three weeks of racing this weekend.
Gallopin will ride his first Giro, and hopes to take a stage win to add to the stage victories he has from the Tour de France (2014) and last year's Vuelta a Espana, where he also finished 11th overall. Vuillermoz, meanwhile, returns to the Giro for the first time since 2014 – when he, too, finished 11th overall – and is eyeing a top-10 finish overall at the Corsa Rosa.
"Alexis wanted to change his programme this season and return to the Giro, five years after his last participation," said sports director Laurent Biondi on the team's website.
"After a victory in March at the Royale Bernard Drôme Classic, his progress was slowed by a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico. But during the Tour of the Alps, he proved that he was not very far from his best form. His climbing skills and his recovery capacity over three weeks should allow him to demonstrate his strengths on the Italian roads and aim for a top 10, or even better."
Former US road race champion Larry Warbasse also features in the line-up, riding his sixth Grand Tour and his second Giro. The 28-year-old joined the French WorldTour team for this season following the demise of the Pro Continental team Aqua Blue Sport.
"Larry will be one of the road captains for our team at this Giro," said Biondi. "He joined our squad over the winter, and has perfectly integrated with the group. He knows how difficult Grand Tours can be, and has proved his ability to be at the head of affairs on the most difficult stages. His stage victory at the Tour de Suisse in 2017 also shows that he can win UCI WorldTour events."
Also included on the team are the experienced Hubert Dupont and Ben Gastauer, with the latter ready to step into a GC role as ‘third man' if required.
"Hubert will continue in the role that suits him perfectly: that of road captain," added Biondi. "He'll be starting the Giro for the 12th time in his career, and, at almost 39 years old, he knows the Giro by heart.
"Ben will be very important on tough days. His experience, as well as his calm, are huge assets to ease three weeks of racing, and he also has the means to win a stage," Biondi said.
AG2R team manager Vincent Lavenu commented that the team would be starting this year's Giro "with great ambitions".
"During their careers, both Alexis Vuillermoz and Tony Gallopin have proved that they are able to take victories at Grand Tours. And Tony proved last year at the Vuelta a Espana that he also has the ability to race for the general classification in a three-week event. He is a very professional racer, and I know he will be prepared for the toughest stages," said Lavenu.
"In 2014, in his only participation in the Italian event, Alexis made a strong impression, while working for the team all along. In general, I want to see aggressive and uncomplicated racers taking on the 21 stages. I know that the entire team can achieve great things," he said.
AG2R La Mondiale for the 2019 Giro d'Italia: Francois Bidard, Nico Denz, Hubert Dupont, Tony Gallopin, Ben Gastauer, Nans Peters, Alexis Vuillermoz, Larry Warbasse
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