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"Even if we had some regret at the Dauphiné because we missed the boat for the GC due to a strategic error, we did well in some of the major events.”

Photo: Sirotti

AG2R CITROEN TEAM

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13.12.2016 @ 15:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

AG2R - La Mondiale continues to grow together with its riders. In 2016, the French tea had a lot satisfactions and the outcome is promising for the future. Manager Vincent Lavenu and his team will also try to learn from their mistakes which could lead to even more success next season. Sports director Julien Jurdie looked back on the year in an interview with VeloPro.fr.

 

"This is a satisfactory result although in terms of victories, it is below what we expected,” the sports director admitted. “We had no sprinters, it was a gamble. But we can be satisfied because we have were good in the big races and took victories in the key events.”

 

The balance sheet only shows eight wins, fifteen less than last year.This is the worst total for a WorldTour team this season. 

 

"We had a rather exceptional season the year before with virtually the same team and we were a little surprised of such a record without a sprinter,” continued Jurdie. “We experienced the flip side and that is the weak point of our season.”

 

The team did not had success throughout the entire year but they were present in they moments, notably with Romain Bardet an Pierre Latour taking a stage win in the Tour de France and the Vuelta respectively. This proves that the leaders were able to shine in the important moments. 

 

"Even if we had some regret at the Dauphiné because we missed the boat for the GC due to a strategic error, we did well in some of the major events.”

 

At AG2R, the focus is three-fold. Firstly, Romain Bardet was second overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné and especially in the Tour de France.

 

"We had a leader who was able to show himself throughout the season and that's a really good point,” explained Jurdie. “It remains a good result, even if he is a real competitor and wants first place. If at the start of the Tour de France we were told that Romain would finish second, we would have signed. We are really very pleased, especially as it was a very difficult year in which the majority of the leaders were there, at their best.”

 

Secondly, the team were always able to count on Samuel Dumoulin, despite the difficulty of having to do both the Coupe de France for WorldTour races. The Frenchman took overall victory in the French series.

 

“Samuel Dumoulin was ill at the start and had not necessarily expected to win,” Jurdie said. “He managed to turn things around tide. He was able to create a good team around him even if we often had a young team in the Coupe de France in order to also meet the requirements of the WorldTour. He was leader and road captain at the same time.”

 

AG2R-La Mondiale has finally done what it does best, which is to reveal young talent. This year, Pierre Latour impressed with a win at the top of the Alto de Aitana in the Vuelta as a reward for his great season. 

 

"The Chambéry cycling team produce some great riders who have a level of interest when they arrive in the pro ranks,” said Jurdie. “Pierre Latour is the symbol and he showed his class. Both he and Romain Bardet are-coming guys. There are many others behind them. "

 

Quentin Jauregui, Nico Denz and new recruits Benedict Cosnefroy and Nans Peters will try to follow in the footsteps of the climbers.

 

This year Ag2r have been among the most active on the transfer market with no less than ten signings.

 

“We had a discussion about the lack of victories,” said Jurdie. “So we looked for Rudy Barbier who is one of the best French sprinters. Then, during the Tour, we also signed Sondre Holst Enger. With them, we have two young sprinters for the future. There is also Oliver Naesen who impressed ay the end of season with his victory in Plouay and his second place at the Eneco Tour. He will be there at the start to the season with an important role and forms an interesting duo with Stijn Vandenbergh. "

 

The team has based the transfer campaign on its weaknesses. Samuel Dumoulin will not be the only sprinter of the team while the group for the Flemish classics has changed as Naesen and Vandenbergh will replace Johan Vansummeren, Damien Gaudin, Sébastien Minard and Sébastien Turgot.

 

Jurdie also discussed the new climbers. 

 

"The second goal was to build the core around Bardet with the arrival of Mathias Frank who will ensure that Romain is well supported in the mountains."

 

Alexandre Geniez and Clément Chevrier will be excellent additions in the hard races too. Julien Duval is the final signing.

 

"We will work to be strong in the early season and win quickly. It's better for the morale. We don’t have a specific target but more than 15 wins would be nice.”

 

Earlier this year, the team decided to restructure the management by adding Philippe Chevalier. The latter brought his personal touch to the organization and allowed manager Vincent Lavenu to skip certain tasks. 

 

"He did a lot of good in the team,” ensured Jurdie. “He knew how to build serenity and comfort in the work by clarifying certain points. It also allowed Vincent Lavenu to skip some things and that should be felt in the coming years. “

 

The team also has to deal with the WorldTour reform. Julien Jurdie, like many other sports directors, is on the same wavelength as the President of the National League Marc Madiot. 

 

"The World Tour reform seems very heavy and incoherent. We still do not even know the rules since the points rankings have yet to be changed. There is a lot of unclarity. If we want to meet the expectations of the WorldTour, we will have to skip some racing. We see that more and more races disappear. So we're all behind Marc Madiot.” 

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