Two of cycling’s big names made moves on Monday, with Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet joining AG2R La Mondiale next season in place of Tour de France hopeful Romain Bardet, who will leave for Sunweb.
In a statement AG2R, who will change their name to AG2R Citroen Team from 2021, said that Van Avermaet and Swiss rider Michael Schar had signed three-year deals with the French team.
The 35-year-old won road race gold at the 2016 Games in Rio and the one-day classic Paris-Roubaix a year later. He has also won two individual stages and two team time trial stages at the Tour de France, as well as the points
classification at the 2008 Vuelta a Espana.
“I am happy and motivated to start a new adventure,” said Van Avermaet, who leaves CCC Team.
“My goal is always the same: to win races like the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, stages of the Tour de France or wear the yellow jersey for as long as possible.”
The double signing of Van Avermaet and Schar comes after the French team recruited Belgian riders Stan Dewuf and Gijs Van Hoecke to their ranks.
Van Avermaet replaces departing Bardet, 29, who has signed a two-year contract with German team Sunweb starting from next season.
Frenchman Bardet is one of the home hopes in the Tour de France, where he has twice finished on the podium in the general classification and won the King of the Mountains last year, as well as winning three stages over the
years. He also finished runner up at the 2018 World Championships.
“At Team Sunweb I have the opportunity to start with no specific expectations or a specific race to target,” said Bardet.
“This opportunity comes at the right moment in my career and I am very motivated to start working with the team and its group of very promising riders.”
Bardet leaves AG2R after nine years of promise and near misses at big races such as Liege-Bastone-Liege and the Strade Bianche.
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini