AG2R La Mondiale making a play at Vuelta team competition
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Friday, August 24, 2012

AG2R La Mondiale making a play at Vuelta team competition

by Kyle Moore at 11:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
French squad sits third currently and climbing well

Rinaldo NocentiniThe French team AG2R La Mondiale finished stage six of the Vuelta a España as the second best team, behind the trio led by Chris Froome that Sky Procycling used to decimate the peloton on the final climb.

But the French squadron of brown and blue had both Rinaldo Nocentini (pictured) and Nicolas Roche placed well on the final climb into Jaca, and could utilize either Maxime Bouet or John Gadret as the third man on the general classification in the chase for the team title.

Roche has been especially impressive, and the Irishman currently sits in seventh overall, 1’04” behind Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), with the flat stage seven currently ongoing. Nocentini had his best day on Thursday, and was present throughout the uphill finale of stage six, finishing the stage in seventh place, 25 seconds behind the stage winner Rodriguez. Roche was just behind, ninth on the stage. Having completed his domestique duties, Bouet still managed to come home 18th, 47 seconds behind.

The disappointment for AG2R on stage six was Gadret, who cracked and lost over eight minutes. But as the GC picture at the Vuelta continues to become clearer, Nocentini looks set to move up from his current 21st place overall. Bouet is on pace to improve his 33rd place, and Gadret will now be on the hunt for stages, and could do better than his current spot in 50th.

Team director Julien Jurdie was impressed with his team’s efforts on stage six, which solidified it as currently the third best team overall, behind Sky Procycling and Rabobank.

“It was a very demanding stage with the wind, high temperatures and narrow roads,” Jurdie said. “The final was also complicated with two climbs on the menu. All the ingredients were there to make a beautiful stage. We had thought that Katusha would do the pacing if a breakaway went, and it happened. They imposed a heavy tempo throughout the day and this intensified in the final.

“At the beginning of the climbs, our three leaders were well placed, plus Matteo [Montaguti] and Maxime were also still in the lead. Unfortunately, John cracked 10km from the finish and was the disappointment of the day. He had a bad feeling from the start but he fought throughout the stage. We'll have to change our tune about him and John will now target stage wins.”

Having gone without much Grand Tour success for several years, Jurdie was more than pleased to have some protagonists in the Vuelta.

“Of course, the satisfaction of [stage six] is to find Nicolas and Rinaldo on the front,” Jurdie praised. “Maxime is also always present - he finished 18th on the stage while having done the work for his leaders. He really is in excellent shape for the Vuelta and this is good news for the team classification. In any case, the balance of the day is pretty good. The heat is present, the tempo is fast and [the hot weather] is still expected to last 15 days. On a difficult race, this is extremely challenging.”

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