Transfer News Steve Houanard signs for AG2R La Mondiale, but may not be free to go
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Transfer News Steve Houanard signs for AG2R La Mondiale, but may not be free to go

by Ben Atkins at 3:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
24-year-old French rider could be the second rider subject to a Skil-Shimano contract battle in as many years
24-year-old Frenchman Steve Houanard has signed a two-year contract with AG2R-La Mondiale, the team announced today. There may be a problem with the move though as Skil-Shimano, his current team, announced last month that they had extended the French rider’s contract through 2012.

Houanard has developed steadily since signing with the Dutch team as a stagiere in mid-August 2008, which is how he has come to the notice of the AG2R-La Mondiale team. This season he has so far finished third in a stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt, fourth in a stage and finished in 23rd position overall in the Tour de Luxembourg; he also completed the tough Tour of Poland this month in a respectable 82nd position.

After having signed his contract extension with Skil-Shimano, the rider from Chambéry reportedly expressed regrets when he realised that the French team was interested in him.

AG2R-La Mondiale describes Houanard as “an invaluable recruit for Vincent Lavenu’s formation”, while Skil-Shimano expressed similar sentiments last month. Both teams feel that his performances in the Flemish classics and undulating stage races bode well for Houanard’s future; unfortunately though, he cannot race for both teams.

If both teams decide to fight for the rider’s contract, Houanard will not be the first rider that Skil-Shimano has had a tug-o-war with another team over. At the end of last year Japanese rider Fumiyuki Beppu signed for Lance Armstrong’s new RadioShack team, despite being contracted to the Dutch team for 2011. On that occasion Skil-Shimano lost out to the ProTour team; how they would fare against AG2R-La Mondiale, another ProTour team, remains to be seen.

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