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"This year there will be nice opportunities for climbers and although the list of starts is very impressive, I hope to be with the best at the start of the year."

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AG2R CITROEN TEAM

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ALEXIS VUILLERMOZ

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AXEL DOMONT

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CHRISTOPHE RIBLON

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GUILLAUME BONNAFOND

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JEAN-CHRISTOPHE PÉRAUD

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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04.12.2015 @ 14:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Like Cadel Evans, Ryder Hesjedal, Jakob Fuglsang and his teammate Jean-Christophe Peraud who was second at the 2014 Tour de France, Alexis Vuillermoz is a former mountain bike who has turned his focus to the road. In 2009 he was runner-up at the U23 World Mountain Bike Championships in Canberra (Australia) after an active race that saw Peter Sagan finish fourth. Since then he has continued his progress.

 

Vuillermoz who is known as Pikachu and for his powerful attacks and yellow helmet, did his first Tour de France in 2013 after only a few months of training with the Sojasun team. "I have never raced for more than seven consecutive days", he stated back then. However, he finished in 46th place, surprising those who thought he was going to feel the change to road cycling. "I lacked experience, but I really wanted to learn," he recalls now.

 

The demise of Sojasun, however, left him without a team at the end of the year. But thanks to the help of Daniel Germond, a patron who believed in him and paid his contract, AG2R signed him for 2014. He finished eleventh in the Giro d'Italia won by Nairo Quintana and won the Mende stage of the Tour de Languedoc-Rousillon ahead of Thibaut Pinot.

 

This year, showing an unstoppable progression, he won the stage to the Mur-de-Bretagne in the Tour de France. He was third on the Mur de Huy behind Joaquim Rodriguez and Chris Froome but in Bretagne no one was ble to match him when he attacked 800m from the finish. "It's my best memory of the season," he says humbly.

 

Two weeks later he won the pre-Olympic teat event in Rio de Janeiro where the French team delivered a fantastic performance on the same course that will be used for the Games. "I come from mountain biking and the Olympics mean a lot for me," he admits. "I would like to participate and represent my country on a course that is ideal for climbers. But it is clear that I am not the only one who dreams of winning the title. "

 

Like in 2014 he won the Mende stage of the Tour of Languedoc-Rousillon near the end of the season - again ahead of Pinot. And he has not peaked yet. "I have renewed my contract with AG2R-La Mondiale until 2018 and I want to continue my progression here," he explains. "I am 27 years old, but only have three full season of experience on the road. That is very little compared to other riders of my age so I still have things to learn and room for progress."

 

For the second year in a row, 'Pikachu' will begin the season at the Tour de San Luis. In 2015 he finished eleventh overall, but with a little luck would have ended higher in the standings. "I suffered a puncture at the bottom of the ascent to Cerro del Feint," he recalls. "This year there will be nice opportunities for climbers and although the list of starts is very impressive, I hope to be with the best at the start of the year."

 

Vuillermoz will be one of the riders to watch in the two summit finishes, Cerro del Feint and Filo Sierra-Comechingones. "It's a nice race to start the season," he says about the Tour de San Luis. "It has an experienced organization and the people are very warm. It is a race that lets you know if the form is good before the first races in Europe."

 

AG2R-La Mondiale will travel to Argentina wiith a powerful block in which Jean-Christophe will Péraud, Christophe Riblon, Quentin Jauregui, Axel Domont, Guillaume Bonnafond, Nico Denz and François Bidard will join Vuillermoz

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