Ag2r La Mondiale signs up three top Asia Tour riders to boost WorldTour licence prospects
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ag2r La Mondiale signs up three top Asia Tour riders to boost WorldTour licence prospects

by Shane Stokes at 6:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
French team aiming to ensure it stays in top level of cycling

Boris ShpilevskiyFinishing up seventeenth out of eighteen teams in the final UCI WorldTour rankings for 2011, the Ag2r La Mondiale squad has taken measures to try to ensure that it holds a ProTeam licence in 2012. The licences are handed out to teams on the basis of several criteria, with sporting performance being one of those; the French team has now signed up three of the top riders in the UCI’s Asia Tour, and this should ensure it obtains some very important points and has a better chance of remaining as a top-level team.

The three signings are the Slovenian Gregor Gazvoda (Perutnina Ptuj), the Russian Boris Shpilevskiy (Tabriz Petrochemical Cycling - pictured) and the Iranian rider Amir Zargari (Azad University). They have been given one year contracts by the Ag2r La Mondiale team.

Of those, Zargari is best in the current Asia rankings. He’s third with 218 points, 21 off the second-placed rider. The 31 year old won two stages plus the overall in the 2011 Tour of Singkarak, was second on two stages of the Kerman Tour plus in the overall standings of the International Presidency Tour of Iran and third on stages of the latter event, the Tour de Langkawi and the Tour of the Philippines.

Russian sprinter Shpilevskiy has had a fine year, with stage wins in the Tour de Langakwi, Tour of East Java and Tour of China (four in all) helping him to fifth in the Asia rankings. The 29 year old also took the prize for the best sprinter in the Tour de Qinghai Lake.

Gazvoda is one place behind him in the rankings, having taken a chunk of points for winning a stage plus the overall classification in the Tour de Qinghai Lake. The 30 year old was also third in the Slovenian road race championships.

While some may see their signings as a way for Ag2r La Mondiale to try to secure points without perhaps having to pay as much as it would with a WorldTour or Europe Tour rider, the flipside is that the riders are been given an opportunity to race at the top level in the sport and to try to secure a multi-year deal.

The UCI’s precise method of calculating each team’s ranking has not been disclosed, and so it makes it impossible to accurately compare Ag2r La Mondiale’s points with those of its closest rival.

It will find out later this year if its efforts to remain in the top echelon of teams has been successful, but today’s three signings is a useful move.


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