Ag2r La Mondiale
Was: Brown-shorts-wearing token French wild card pick
Now: Brown-shorts-wearing token French WorldTour pick
Fight! Fight! Fight!
One of the highlights of last year's Tour was Ag2r rider Nicolas Roche's entertaining spat with team-mate John Gadret. Roche, the team leader, needed a wheel at a crucial moment of the race, and asked Gadret for one. Gadret gave a shrug that was almost the Platonic form of Gallic shrugs, and told him "non". Roche wrote in his excellent column for Jhe Irish Independent that he had great difficulty k not putting Gadret s head through the coach i window at the finish.
Roche is easily the best thing about this team — a GC rider who isn't a climber or time triallist and instead relies on tactics and attacking. He'll never win the Tour, but we'd (| rather watch him come ninth A and die trying than some anonymous nonentity grinding his way round France at the back of the lead group.
The big news is that Ag2r are the sole French ProTeam. They're a bit more Wigan Athletic than Manchester United, but they'll enliven the Tour with their attacking riding.
Anything else? Ah yes, they wear brown shorts.
WHERE THEY'LL SHINE
On the French front and at the Tour de France, which is all the sponsors ask for. A top 10 overall finish would be an excellent and realistic result for the gradually-progressing Roche.
Elsewhere, it's all about taking their chances and racking up wins in obscure French races; B-string riders like Nocentini, Elmiger and Ravard are adept at this.
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