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French team hoping to see Rinaldo Nocentini and Carlos Betancur in the mix throughout the week of the Ardennes classics

Photo: Sirotti

AG2R CITROEN TEAM

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AMSTEL GOLD RACE

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CARLOS ALBERTO BETANCUR

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DOMENICO POZZOVIVO

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FLECHE WALLONNE

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JOHN GADRET

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LIÈGE - BASTOGNE - LIÈGE

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RINALDO NOCENTINI

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11.04.2013 @ 15:17 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

The French ProTeam Ag2r-La Mondiale has named its line-ups for all of the Ardennes classics. This year the team's usual captain in the hilly one-day races will share leadership responsibilities with new signing Carlos Betancur.

 

Ag2r was at the pointy end of the Ardennes classics with the team's experienced Italian Rinaldo Nocentini. 9th place in the Amstel Gold Race, 12th in the Fleche Wallonne and 11th in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the veteran was one of the most consistent riders in last year's Ardennes campaign.

 

This year the Italian returns with the firm objective of improving on last year's performances. He had a fantastic start to the season with an overall 5th place in the Tour of Oman before he stepped onto the last step of the podium after the Strade Bianche and the GP Camaiore one-day races. However, he was disappointed to see his performances drop somewhat in the Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya, and since then he has prepared quietly for his main objectives in the Ardennes.

 

He will share the leadership role with new signing Carlos Betancur. The Colombian is really strong in hilly one-day races and was a key protagonist in most of the races in Italy last year as a leader of the now-defunct Acqua e Sapone team.

 

After a slow start, he approaches his peak condition, and last week he was 7th overall in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco after coming tantalizingly close to a stage win on the third day of the race. Alongside Nocentini, he will be part of a dangerous duo in Belgium and the Netherlands.

 

The captains will have a strong support crew. Young talent Romain Bardet, in-form Mikael Cherel, Nocentini's wingman Matteo Montaguti and strong Blel Kadri will help their leaders in all three races.

 

The remaining two spots will be taken by different riders throughout the week of the Ardennes classics. With positioning a key element of the Amstel Gold Race, the line-up includes one of the team's riders from the cobbled classics, Sebastien Minard, who will fill out the squad alongside Julien Berard.

 

With the steep ramps of the Mur de Huy perfectly suited to his punchy style, John Gadret will replace Berard in the Fleche Wallonne. For the first time in years, the Frenchman has had a limited cyclo-cross campaign and is much stronger at this time of the year than he usually is. With an overall 10th place in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in his pocket, he could be a dangerous outsider in Huy.

 

For the biggest race, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Minard will be replaced by Domenico Pozzovivo. With La Doyenne being more of a climber's race, most teams bring in their pure climbers for the final race of the series. The inclusion of Pozzovivo shows that Ag2r behaves no different and the quartet of Nocentini, Gadret, Betancur and Pozzovivo provide the team with quite a number of options in the final part of the oldest of the classics. Pozzovivo will arrive fresh from his title defence in the Giro del Trentino which finishes on Friday.

 

You can follow all of the Ardennes classics on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

 

Ag2r-La Mondiale for the Amstel Gold Race

Rinaldo Nocentini, Carlos Betancur, Romain Bardet, Mikael Cherel, Blel Kadri, Matteo Montaguti, Sebastien Minard and Julien Berard

 

Ag2r-La Mondiale for the Fleche Wallonne

Rinaldo Nocentini, Carlos Betancur, Romain Bardet, Mikael Cherel, Blel Kadri, Matteo Montaguti, Sebastien Minard and John Gadret

 

Ag2r-La Mondiale for the Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Rinaldo Nocentini, Carlos Betancur, Romain Bardet, Mikael Cherel, Blel Kadri, Matteo Montaguti, John Gadret and Domenico Pozzovivo

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