Ag2r-La Mondiale will continue an unbroken string of appearances in the Santos Tour Down Under in 2012.
The French squad has competed in each edition of Australia’s WorldTour race since it was first run in 1999.
With four former Tour Down Under winners in their 2012 roster, team manager, Laurent Biondi, said his team had high aspirations for the race.
“Our first objective will be to win a stage. Moreover, we will try to put a rider in the top 10. We know it will be difficult because the level of competition at the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under promises to be high with very good riders on the start list,” he said.
“Our team has good climbers and sprinters and we know that we can obtain a good result at this race. Elmiger has already won the Santos Tour Down Under and he will be a good captain for the team.
“We can also count on Blel Kadri who took eighth place overall in 2011 and who enjoys this race. The course suits him and he can succeed in this race, as will the rest of the team.”
Kadri said he would start the 2012 race in the same frame of mind as in 2011.
“I’m highly motivated and I have the willingness to do well but my result will depend if I’m in good shape or not. The Santos Tour Down Under is the first race of the 2012 season and it’s always difficult to know exactly what your physical form will be before the start of the race.
“In any case, we have a great team and we hope to do at least as well as we did at the race this year,” he said.
The Ag2r-La Mondiale team will be led by 2007 winner, the Swiss rider, Martin Elmiger, one of three former winners competing in the white, blue, and black of the French squad. Simon Gerrans, the 2006 winner, Mikel Astaloza, overall victor in 2003, and Gilles Maignan, the 2000 winner, will also line up in Adelaide.
The former winners will ride with a host of developing talents, including the 24-year-old Romain Lemarchand, 25-year-old Kristof Goddaert, and 26-year-old Manuel Belletti. Italian rider, Matteo Montaguti, and the Russian, Boris Shpilevskiy, complete the line up.
Race Director Mike Turtur welcomed the French team’s addition to the race line up.
“Ag2r-La Mondiale will be a very competitive side at the 2012 race, bringing a team led by very experienced riders with key victories on the world stage,” Turtur said.
The Santos Tour Down Under 2012 kicks off in Adelaide with the Down Under Classic on Sunday January 15. The first of six stages will be held on Tuesday August 17.