Ag2r-La Mondiale was once again busy in the transfer market during the off-season as it worked to ensure its continued presence in the WorldTour in 2013. The gambit paid off and Ag2r was formally awarded a WorldTour licence last week.
The arrival of Domenico Pozzovivo from Colnago-CSF was the squad’s major transfer coup, and Ag2r manager Vincent Lavenu denied that the Italian had made the move purely for financial reasons.
“He was reaching an age to go abroad and he wanted to ride in the WorldTour but didn’t have other offers,” Lavenu told L'Equipe. “Of course, the financial aspect counts, but it was mainly because of the work we put in to convince him and reassure him. We’re also based in Chambéry, near the border, and he knew that we have a big Italian programme.”
As a late arrival to WorldTour level, Lavenu explained that Pozzovivo “wanted a nice international calendar above all,” but the Italian is almost certain to line up at the Giro d’Italia, along with fellow new arrival Carlos Betancur.
“As for John Gadret, we’re not sure. In any case, I’d rather have two leaders than one, and if both Domenico and John do the Giro, there won’t be any hierarchy between the two. We just need to manage them, and that’s the role of the staff, I’m not worried.”
Ag2r staff famously had to manage Gadret and Nicolas Roche’s relationship at the 2010 Tour de France, when the pair argued over Gadret’s failure to wait for Roche when he punctured on the Port de Bales. Roche has now moved on Saxo-Tinkoff, and Lavenu said that the Irishman had left the squad this winter with no ill feeling.
“There was no problem at all,” Lavenu said. “He gave presents to his teammates when he left, that says it all. We allowed him to race right to the end of the season and even to be the leader at the Vuelta, when we knew that he was leaving for a rival team in terms of UCI points. He wanted to experience something else and help a big champion, that’s certainly a passage obligé in his career.”