Casper to Ag2r La Mondiale, Poels and Ruijgh extend with Vacansoleil DCM
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Casper to Ag2r La Mondiale, Poels and Ruijgh extend with Vacansoleil DCM

by Shane Stokes at 1:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Teams aiming for big 2012 seasons

Wout PoelsAs cycling’s transfer season continues, three new contracts have been confirmed for riders by the Vacansoleil DCM and Ag2r La Mondiale teams.

French sprinter Jimmy Casper has been signed up by the latter, inking a deal for one season with the option for a second. The 33 year old promptly celebrated by winning stage one of the Tour de l’Ain.

“It’s a real pleasure to join the Ag2r La Mondiale team,” he said. “I am proud to return to a team at the WorldTour level after several seasons at Continental Pro. I am a proud person and I hope that I can bring results to the Ag2r La Mondiale team in 2012.”

Casper’s biggest success came in 2006 when the-then Cofidis rider won a stage in the Tour de France. He moved to Unibet the following season but he and the team were caught up in the conflict between the UCI and ASO over the ProTour. As a result they didn’t get into many of the top races.

The tangle meant that he wasn’t able to build on his career after that Tour stage win. As a result he continued at that Pro Continental level, competing with Agritubel, Besson-Sojasun and Saur Sojasun in the past three seasons.

Ag2r La Mondiale is hoping to retain its ProTeam licence in 2012; if so, Casper will have a prime chance to chase results in the Tour and other races.

Vacansoleil extends two:

Meanwhile the Vacansoleil team has decided to reward the riders Wout Poels (pictured) and Rob Ruijgh by tearing up their existing contracts and giving them new, better deals.

Having turned pro with the team last year, Ruijgh finished fourth in the 2011 Four Days of Dunkirk, then placed a fine fourteenth in the Critérium du Dauphiné and 21st in his first Tour de France. At 24 years of age, he has three or four years of steady improvement ahead of him, and general manager Daan Luijkx wants to make sure he remains with the team.

As a result, he has extended the previous deal which was due to remain in place until the end of 2012. It now runs for an additional season, as does that of Poels.

The latter has been part of Luijkx’s teams since 18 years of age, moving up to the pro level in 2009. This year he starting things off well when he finished third overall in the Tour of the Mediterranean and fourth in the Vuelta a Murcia. He then picked up the first of two runner-up spots on stages of WorldTour races when he was second on day five of Tirreno-Adriatico, then more recently was second on stage six of the Tour of Poland.

He placed an excellent fourth overall in the latter, showing his ability to perform on varied terrain. Commenting on his signature, the team noted that he won two races last year [stages of the Tour de l’Ain and Tour of Britain] and rode well in the world championships, and stated that he is likely to compete in the Vuelta a España.

“Both riders have a contract until the end of 2012 but we wanted to seal the shared confidence,” said Luijkx. “These climbers became pro at our team and make progress every year…we look forward to the coming years.”

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