Cherel and Hutarovich to lead AG2R La Mondiale in record-setting fifteenth Santos Tour Down Under ride
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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Cherel and Hutarovich to lead AG2R La Mondiale in record-setting fifteenth Santos Tour Down Under ride

by VeloNation Press at 5:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
“This year my goal is to get at least one stage victory”

Mikael CherelFour time race winners Ag2r la Mondiale will extend a notable statistic of participation in the Santos Tour Down Under next month, with the French team being confirmed as once again heading back to the Australian event

The squad – which won the second edition with Glles Maignan in 2000, then triumphed in 2003, 2006 and 2007 with Mikel Astarloza, Simon Gerrans and Martin Elmiger respectively – has competed in every running of the race since the Australian event began in 1999.

No other team has the same statistic to its name, as race director Mike Turtur notes. “As the race celebrates fifteen years in 2013, it will be great to have Ag2r La Mondiale here alongside us commemorating this milestone as they have been with us every step of the way.”

Although winning the race will be tough due to the high quality of the field which is expected for the January 20th start – riders such world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) and 2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck (RadioShack Nissan) are expected to compete – the French team nevertheless wants a strong showing.

Its roster for the race will include the French climber Mikael Cherel. He is currently working hard to be in good shape for the event.

“The main goal for us at the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be to get at least one rider in the top ten overall,” he explained. “I know I’m able to achieve this goal and I’m preparing myself for that.

“I finished tenth overall in 2009 and I hope to get at least this rank…and why not obtain an even better result? The overall classification should be determined on Willunga Hill, which we climb twice.”

That summit finish should swing the race away from the sprinters, who dominated in many of the previous editions. But Ag2r La Mondiale will be represented in that department too, as the rapid Belorussian national champion Yauheni Hutarovich has moved to the squad from FDJ – BigMat, and wants to begin clocking up big results early on.

“In 2012 I came close to a stage win and this year my goal is to get at least one stage victory,” said the two-time participant. “My experience in this race is an important asset and a stage win will help me to start the 2013 season well. That is very important for self-confidence.”

The duo will be joined by the promising new signing Gediminas Bagdonas, the Lithuanian national champion who previously won a stage of the Tour of Britain plus various other events, as well as Frenchmen Guillaume Bonnafond and Blel Kadri, the German Julian Kern and Italy’s Davide Appollonio.

The racing programme will begin on Sunday January 20th with the People’s Choice Classic, although this won’t count towards the overall classification. The GC battle will instead begin two days later, and will be 758.5 kilometres in length.

More details of riders and teams are expected in the weeks ahead. While the other UCI ProTeams will likely have some strong competitors present, Turtur remains convinced that the French squad will be prominent.

“The Ag2r La Mondiale team will be very competitive,” he predicted, referring to their experience and also Hutarovich’s presence as his reasons for expecting this.


Ag2r La Mondiale for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under:

Davide Appollonio (ITA)
Gédiminas Bagdonas (LIT)
Guillaume Bonnafond (FRA)
Mikael Cherel (FRA)
Blel Kadri (FRA)
Yauheni Hutarovich (BLR)
Julian Kern (GER)

Manager: Laurent Biondi (FRA)

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