Ag2r La Mondiale lineup confirmed as Tour Down Under approaches
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ag2r La Mondiale lineup confirmed as Tour Down Under approaches

by VeloNation Press at 7:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
2012 UCI WorldTour series starts in eighteen days

Blel KadriJust over two weeks from the start of the race, the lineup of the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under is nearing completion with the announcement of the squad listing for another team, the Ag2r La Mondiale outfit.

The French team has finalized its six riders for the UCI WorldTour event, which begins in Adelaide on January 15th.

Those competitors are currently training hard to prepare for the eight-day race which will this year include a summit finish on Old Willunga Hill. It could open up the racing somewhat, meaning that sprinters will find it tougher to prevail than before.

One of those who will hope to benefit is the 2007 champion Martin Elmiger, who will be one of the key riders in the 2012 Ag2r La Mondiale lineup. He and Blel Kadri (pictured) are the likely leaders of the squad, which will also include fellow Frenchman Romain Lemarchand, the Italians Matteo Montaguti and Manuel Belletti, Kristof Goddaert (Belgium) plud Boris Shpilevskiy (Russia).

The team has taken overall victories on four separate occasions, with Elmiger in 2007, Simon Gerrans in 2006, Mikel Astaloza in 2003 and Gilles Maignan in 2000. This time round, team manager Laurent Biondi has set a different initial goal, but his riders will swoop if more is possible.

“Our first objective will be to win a stage. Moreover, we will try to put a rider in the top ten,” he said. “We know it will be difficult because the level of competition at the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under promises to be high with very good riders on the start list.”

“Our team has good climbers and sprinters and we know that we can obtain a good result at this race. Elmiger has already won the Santos Tour Down Under and he will be a good captain for the team. We can also count on Blel Kadri who took eighth place overall in 2011 and who enjoys this race. The course suits him and he can succeed in this race, as will the rest of the team.”

Kadri impressed in 2011, riding strongly in support of team leaders such as Nicolas Roche but also drawing praise for his attitude and determination. Still only 25 years of age, he has plenty of hunger. “I’m highly motivated and I have the willingness to do well, but my result will depend if I’m in good shape or not,” he said. “The Santos Tour Down Under is the first race of the 2012 season and it’s always difficult to know exactly what your physical form will be before the start of the race.

“In any case, we have a great team and we hope to do at least as well as we did at the race this year.”

Ag2r La Mondiale for Santos Tour Down Under:

Martin Elmiger (SUI), Manuel Belletti (ITA), Kristof Goddaert (BEL), Blel Kadri (FRA), Romain Lemarchand (FRA), Matteo Montaguti (ITA) and Boris Shpilevskiy (RUS).


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