EUSRL France Cyclisme
9, Rue des Genevois
Parc d'Activité de Côte Rousse
Phone: (+33) 4 79 60 08 80
Fax : (+33) 4 79 60 08 81
Web : http://www.ag2r-cyclisme.com/
Manager: Vincent Lavenu
Team Managers: Laurent Biondi, Vincent Lavenu
Assistant Team Manager: Gilles Mas, Arturas Kasputis
General Administration: Jean-Yves Grand
Sponsor: AG2r Prévoyance is an insurance company.
Bikes: Décathlon (Campagnolo)
AG2r Prévoyance trace their history in the pro peloton way back to 1992 when they started as CHAZAL - VANILLE ET MURE - VETTA, indeed one of the original 12 riders of that team, Laurent Biondi, is still with the squad as team manager. The team have Kirsipuu as the major winner, but also Tour stars like Botcharov the forgotten hero of Ventoux, and prospects like Mark Scanlon...
Christophe Agnolutto (Fra) -6 December 1969 - The top French amateur in 1995 was enough to convince Petit Casino to sign him pro in 1996. A rider very much in the Jacky Durand mould - always smiling, and always prepared to have a go off the front on his own. This cavalier attitude paid off big style in 1997 when he, Max Van Heeswijk (now of course riding with US Postal), Valentino Fois and Marco Vergnani broke away from the peloton on Stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse. With 17 kilometers to go, Agnolutto left his fellow fuyards behind and scored a spectacular solo victory. A somewhat dedraggled and complacent peloton rolled in some 11.30 minutes back. The big hitters (Ullrich, Camenzind, Zuelle, etc.) were confident that the following days in the mountains would see Agnoluttto lose hold of the leader's jersey. Not so. With a display of bravery in the mountains that at times was almost painful to watch, “Momo” clung onto the leaders jersey.
In 1998 he won the first stage of the Tour de Romandie and in 2000 scored another victory in the Tour de France - with a 130 kilometre solo effort on stage 7 into Limoges. His attacking style is always a joy to watch, “Momo” en héros solitaire.
Daily Peloton related article: Click here
Daily Peloton related article: Click here
Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) - 17 November 1979 - first year pro 2002. Twice winner of the Pays Basque Time Trial championship as well as several good placings in the amateur Tours (Winner Tour de Bidasoa 2001) plus an excellent 19th place in 2002 Dauphiné Libéré suggest potential as a Tour rider.
Lauri Aus (Est) - 4 November 1970 - The experience Estonian turned pro in1995 with Mutualité de Seine-Marne and has ridden his entire career with French teams. Strong roadman and good against the clock (in 2000 he was Estonian National Champion in both disciplines), a true hard man of the road able to work strongly for his team mates.
Stéphane Berges (Fra) - 9 January 1975 - pro since 1998 with the Big Mat-Auber93-IBM team and another rider who like team mate Agnolutto “aime l’effort solitaire”. Always prepared to have a effort for the great escape e.g. - 170 kms with 4 companions in the CIRCUIT DES MINES in 1997.
- 160 kms solo TOUR de l'AVENIR 1998
- and 160 kms to win his first and only pro victory on the third stage of the Tour Down Under -2000. 2002 saw no change in tactics, with a valiant effort on stage one of the Criterium International, and Tour de France fans may remember his attack on stage one with Christophe Mengin and Ludo Dierckxsens, which was enough to see him grab the mountains jersey for a day. Always prepared to have a go - a great rider to watch!
Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) - 26 February 1975 - turned pro 2000 for Ag2r, the Russian is a superb climber. While Virenque held onto his lead and Armstrong chased up Ventoux in the 2002 Tour, “Coppi” (as he is called by his teammates because of a similarity of style) was wedged between the two and managed to hold on to his second place. Second overall in the Tour Down Under last season, it is only a matter of time before Botcharov gains his first major mountain finish victory.
Laurent Brochard (Fra) - 26 March 1968 - Turned pro in 1992 with the Castorama team and has been consitant performer since then. 1997 was the highpoint with the Festina team, winning 3 stages of the Midi Libre, a
stage of the Tour de France (Vallè to Louron) and then winning the World Championship road race in San Sebastian. With the demise of Festina he moved to Jean Delatour and was still a very successful rider. In 2002 he won the overall and a stage of both the Regio Tour and the Tour of Poland, as well as a stage in the Midi Libre. He was also consistently lively in many races. No question that the former rainbow jersey will return to the podiums in 2003.
Iñigo Chaurreau Bernadez (Spa) - 14 April 1973 - turned pro with Polti in 1995 before joining Euskaltel - Euskadi in 1998. An excellent 12th place overall in the 2001 Tour de France was enough to convince Ag2r to sign him in 2002. Finished 41st in this year's Tour, but had ridden as domestique of the mountains for Botcharaov; good climber and team rider.
Andy Flickinger (Fra) - 4 November 1978 - track rider and good against the clock, joined Casino in 1999 and then had one season with Festina before joining AG2r. Often close to victory he finally achieved that result when he took stage 2 of Paris-Corrèze in 2002 - with, well you guessed it, a solo effort. Promising talent.
Nicola Inaudi (Fra) 21 January 1981- Very promising amateur career which saw a 7th place in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Espoirs (2000) and victory in the Grand Prix de Meyrin (2001). Turned pro with AG2r in 2002 and managed 6th place in the Grand Prix de Rennes. 2003 has not started out so well; due to race in the Tour Down Under, a painful kneecap has forced him to rest. But it is, a long season...
Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) - 17 July 1969 - One of the top sprinters in the World - and according to Robbie McEwen, the hardest man to beat. The Estonian had essentially stayed with the same club all his carrer joining CHAZAL - VANILLE ET MURE - VETTA in 1992 as an Espoir. Since then he has racked up 91 victories and was again firing on all cylinders at the start of 2002, winning two stages of Étoile de Bessèges, Classic Haribo (interesting top six by the way -Hincapie, Ludo Dierckxsens, Johan Museeuw, Tom Boonen all there) and Kuurne Brussels Kuurne. However, two weeks after that victory a reversing car caused an injury to his tendon that would have wrecked the season of many riders.
He pulled out a rare solo victory in the Tartu Tänavasõit, Estonian Road and CLM Championships before winning stage 5 in the Tour de France.
It says a lot about his reputation that “only” 6 victories is a bit of a disappointment. Usually an early winner in the season, 2003 awaits.
Julien Laidoun (Fra) - 24 January 1980 Neo Pro - multi winner as an espoirs and Cat 2 rider. Won three race last season including stage three of the highly ranked Mont Frasnes (Belgique) International.
Thierry Loder (Fra) 15 December 1975 - pro with Cofidis 1999 - 2000. Ridden for AG2r and Kirsipuu in particular since then.
Christophe Oriol (Fra) - 28 February 1973 - Has been with the team (essentially ) since 1997. Won a stage of Dauphiné Libéré in 1999 has kept improving as a rider, stage winner of the Tour de l'Ain in 2001 - he won a stage and the race outright in 2002.
Picture courtesy of his excellent website: Click here
Nicolas Portal (Fra) - 23 April 1979 - Strong amateur career and moves into the pro ranks.
Erki Pütsep (Est) - 25 May 1976 - First year pro with great amateur record. The third of the Estonian Musketeers...
Mark Scanlon (Irl) - 10 October 1980 -
This report from the Sligoweekender adds a local touch to how the 1998 Junior World Championship winner has progressed. Scanlon was of course one of the riders who suffered due to the “Linda McCartney Affair” - the Sligoweekender gives its appraisal:
Cyclist Mark Scanlon, 22, has already achieved some of his dreams and certainly knows how to seize the day.
Following several years on the European circuit after his Junior World Championship victory in 1998, Scanlon secured his professional contract last autumn.
And now, this week, he joins up with his French professional cycling team, AG2r, to take on the challenge of the professional life, and with it the dreams and aspirations that could possibly come his way.
The life of a professional sportsperson can be a difficult one but also a rewarding one, too.
The life of a professional cyclist, though, can be considered to be maybe a little tougher.
Living away from home for 10 months of the year, moving from place to place, day in day out, can take its toll on some new pros in the professional peleton.
Although it is believed that it shall not be too much of a problem for Mark Scanlon, his new manager at AG2r, Vincent Lavenu, rates him highly and considers him to be a cyclist of much talent and potential.
So too does his new team-mate and winner of several Stages of the Tour de France, Christophe Angnolutto. “Mark Scanlon will be a very good rider, he is very complete, he climbs good, rides fast and sprints well,” is his comment.
A man who also has kept track of Scanlon’s progress since his emphatic win in 1998 is Tour de France director Jean Marie Leblanc, who invited the Sligoman to Paris last October for the unveiling of the this year’s Tour de France route. Leblanc sees Scanlon as a future star of the Tour like Scanlon’s compatriots Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche were before.
The AG2r connection came about via former Irish professional and Tour de France winner Stephen Roche, who informed Lavenu of Scanlon’s potential.
Lavenu then gave Scanlon a trial last autumn and is a trial that Lavenu will not forget as Scanlon outrode some of today's biggest stars in the hills and also in the sprints.
A magical moment for both Lavenu and Scanlon was when Scanlon broke away with Laurent Jalabert and Jalabert had to ask the Irishman to ease up a little, a sign of youthful exuberance, maybe, but also an indication of Scanlon’s massive potential.
Lavenue had no doubts about signing the Sligoman on a two-year contract to his Division One team and as he brings his team away to Australia for the rest of January for some warm weather training and racing in the Tour ‘Down Under’.
Mark Scanlon is very much part of his plans. It will be at this six-day race in Australia (starting on Tuesday, January 21) that Mark Scanlon will make his professional debut.
After that it is the Tour of the Mediterranean from February 12 – February 16, after an outing in the Grand Prix Ouverture La Marseillaise (February 4).
Possibly then in early March it could be the prestigious Paris-Nice race for Scanlon, a race won by Roche and Sean Kelly (seven times in a row) and a race that could see Scanlon race alongside Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
After that, top classic races that Scanlon has requested to take part in are the Het Volk (a race he won as a Junior) Kuurne-Brussels- Kuurne, Gent Wevelgem (won by Kelly twice) and Amstel Gold at the end of April.
His programme for the summer is unknown but much will depend on the first few months of the season.
Although it may be looked upon as a premature debut at the Tour for a first-year pro, Scanlon’s talent and potential along with Jean Marie Leblanc’s fondness for him could possibly see the Sligoman start the 100th edition of the Tour de France (if not this year more likely the 2004 event).
It is a livelihood that presents many challenges, one that will uncertainly have its good and bad moments, but one that was worked for in a very determined way over the past few years.
It is also a chance for Ireland’s eighth-ever First Division cycling professional to seize some of those dreams that stand before him.
For Mark Scanlon this could be the start of a journey of 15 years where he could become known as one of cycling’s ‘Kings of the Road’. Seizing the day.
To read original article: Click here
Olivier Trastour (Fra) - 30 December 1971 - Strong amateur career - turned pro aged 29
Ludovic Turpin (Fra) - 22 March 1975 - pro since 2000 and an improving cyclist as his top five placings in the overall of races such as the Tour du Limousin, Tour de l'Ain and Paris-Camembert suggest.
Sources - Dewielersite - the Daily Peloton - Cycling4all - AG2r official site - Todociclismo - Velo Club - Cyclingnews - Velo101 - and those already mentioned.
Photos - AG2R official site, Tour of Poland, Oriel Website, Daily Peloton.