U23 Worlds bronze medallist Hanninen joins AG2R

AG2R La Mondiale have completed their 2019 line-up with the signing of 21-year-old Finnish rider Jaakko Hanninen, who will start racing for the team midway through next year.

Hanninen took the bronze medal at the UCI Road World Championships men's under-23 road race in Innsbruck, Austria, in September, and has been rewarded by being handed a contract with the French WorldTour team.

He also won 1.2-ranked one-day race the Tour du Gévaudan Occitanie, in Mende, France, in September, beating Direct Energie's Rein Taaramäe and future teammate Geoffrey Bouchard, who was riding for AG2R as a stagiaire.

Hanninen is one of five new signings to the team for 2019, joining French riders Bouchard, Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Dorian Godon, who joins from Cofidis, as well as former US road race champion Larry Warbasse, although Hanninen and Paret-Peintre's new contracts won't begin until August 1, 2019.

"There haven't been many Finnish riders in the UCI WorldTour in recent years," Hanninen said on AG2R's website. "I chose this team because it knows how to give the climbers a chance. My goal is to become one of the best climbers in the world, and to win races."

Hanninen appears to have chosen well, joining a host of experienced climbers on the team, including French Tour de France hope Romain Bardet and the 2018 Tour's best young rider, Pierre Latour.

"Jaakko has already demonstrated his talent at the World Championships as well as in the important races in France riding in the colours of EC Saint-Etienne Loire," said AG2R general manager Vincent Lavenu of his newest signing. "He is a true climber who also has other good qualities, and we're happy that he has chosen our team because he was very much sought after by other teams."

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