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We're well aware of just how good Romain is, but of course no one knows just how much better he can still get. It certainly looks as though he has all the qualities of a rider who can get to the highest level, though.”

Photo: Sirotti








19.07.2014 @ 11:26 Posted by Joseph Doherty

AG2R La Mondiale are on track for their best ever Tour de France in their best ever season so far.


Romain Bardet has already won the young riders jersey at the Tour of Oman as well as finishing 4th overall in the Votla a Catalunya and 5th at the Dauphine. Carlos Betancur has two stages and the overall at Paris-Nice. Domenico Pozzovivo was 6th at the Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico as well as fifth at the Giro d’Italia with teammate Alexis Vuillermoz in 11th and AG2R winning the teams classification. Jean-Christophe Peraud was second at the Tour of the Mediterranean, 4th at Tirreno-Adriatico, 1st at Criterium International and third at the Tour of the Basque Country. Stunning results for such a small team.


But the Tour de France has outshone all of those finishes. After 13 stages, they lead the teams classification, have Bardet in third overall, Peraud in sixth overall and they have a stage through Blel Kadri.


Its no wonder manager Vincent Lavenu is over the moon. He discusses having two men high on GC:


“It's actually quite reassuring to have two riders up there, as anything can happen, as we've already seen with both Chris Froome and Alberto Contador crashing out,” Lavenu told Cyclingnews. “And there's no problem at all about leadership. In fact, I think it's actually good for both Romain and Jean-Christophe's confidence, having a team-mate next to them up at the front.”


“Doing well in the general classification will mean that I'm also in with a chance of winning the white jersey,” the 23 year old Bardet told Cyclingnews. “However, if I'm unfortunate enough to only finish second in the white-jersey competition, but still finish, say, fifth overall, it wouldn't be so bad, either,” he replied when asked if the White Jersey or a high GC finish was more important.


Lavenu is also overjoyed that French cycling seems to be enjoying a renaissance, and it is his team riding the crest of the wave.


“Seeing all the French riders doing so well this year is great for us, and great for the French public, too, who've been waiting a long time for a new champion – someone who can be up there with the best at the Tour,” Lavenu said. “We're well aware of just how good Romain is, but of course no one knows just how much better he can still get. It certainly looks as though he has all the qualities of a rider who can get to the highest level, though.”


“There's a huge battle for the podium this year,” explained Lavenu. “There's Richie Porte [Sky], of course, and then Tejay Van Garderen [BMC]. And watch out for Alejandro Valverde, who's a real vieux renard” – an old fox – “as we say in French. He's riding very well, and is part of a very strong Movistar team. Watch out for Pinot, too."


And Lavenu also warns against those who believe the Tour is done and dusted with Vincenzo Nibali as its champion.


“Even barring accidents, you have to remember that we're only half-way through the Tour, with a very difficult second half to come. Like everyone else, Nibali is not immune to having a bad day,” the Frenchman said.




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