Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet has signed a three-year deal with AG2R La Mondiale. The 35-year old, who has worn the yellow jersey at the Tour de France and won Paris-Roubaix, moves across after two years at CCC Team. The Belgian has made the move alongside fellow CCC rider, Michael Schär.
“I am happy and motivated to start a new adventure. I have just spent ten beautiful years in the structures of Jim Ochowicz and I am embarking on a new challenge,” Van Avermaet said in a press release issued by his future team.
“I am happy that Vincent Lavenu has shown such confidence in me, and I intend to give my best in order to achieve great results. The prospect of working with Oliver Naesen, with the goal of winning classics, is particularly exciting. My goal is always the same: to win races like the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, stages of the Tour de France or wear the yellow jersey for as long as possible.”
Van Avermaet’s future has been in doubt for some time after CCC announced that they would be leaving the sport at the end of the season. Ochowicz has tried to find a replacement sponsor for 2021 but on the eve of Milan-San Remo, his star rider confirmed that he would be leaving the team at the end of the season. AG2R La Mondiale are undergoing a complete revamp of their roster this year. They announced that Citroën was coming on board as a co-sponsor for next year and tied down Naesen and several other Classics specialists to long-term deals. At the same time, Romain Bardet has left for Team Sunweb, while Pierre Latour is heading to Direct Energie.
Van Avermaet’s arrival will bolster the team’s Classics contingent and see him link up with Naesen in the most important one-day races. The arrival of Schär adds a valuable domestique to the squad.
"I'm very excited to begin writing a new chapter in my career. I was won over by the sports project presented by Vincent Lavenu, who is a true cycling enthusiast," said Schär. "I live in the same village as Mathias Frank and he has always talked to me about the AG2R La Mondiale team in glowing terms. We can achieve good performances, especially in the classics with the duo Greg Van Avermaet, with whom I have been riding since 2011, and Oliver Naesen. I will be very happy to help them achieve big goals.”
Team boss Vincent Lavenu praised both of his two new signings, with the French team now becoming one of the most powerful players in the Spring Classics next year. "It is a great satisfaction to have secured the signings of Greg Van Avermaet and Michaël Schär. Greg is a great champion, showing incredible consistency at the highest level. His experience, his rigour, his hard work will be important in our development project. He will be an example for all our young riders.
"His bond with his friend Oliver Naesen, with whom he sometimes trains with, will be an added advantage. Michaël is one of the best teammates in the world. He will be invaluable in protecting our leaders, whether in stage races or in the classics. He is also a very good time trialist. He will be a pilot fish whose experience will contribute a great deal,” said the team boss.
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