Ag2r La Mondiale have confirmed that they have signed Classics star Greg Van Avermaet for 2021, with the Belgian signing a three-year contract.
Van Avermaet leaves CCC Team after 10 years with the squad formerly known as BMC Racing, and takes current team-mate Michael Schär with him to Ag2r for the new season. Swiss rider Schär, 33, has also signed a three-year deal with the French squad, who will switch to the name Ag2r Citrôen Team next year.
The announcement of the signings came shortly after it was announced Ag2r's Grand Tour star Romain Bardet would move to Team Sunweb for 2021.
Olympic champion Van Avermaet, who turned 35 this year, last week said he had no choice but to look for a new team with the threat of CCC Team folding. Team manager Jim Ochowicz is still on the hunt for new backing for his team after title sponsor, Polish handbag company CCC, cut short its three-year sponsorship agreement because of the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on its business.
Ag2r's signing of Van Avermaet and Schär adds formidable strength to their Classics team, currently led by Oliver Naesen. The team already signed Stan Dewulf from Lotto-Soudal and Gijs Van Hoecke from CCC Team to bolster their one-day squad, and Van Avermaet says linking up with Naesen in the Classics was a particular lure to him.
“I am happy and motivated to start a new adventure," Van Avermaet said.
"I have just spent ten beautiful years in the structures of Jim Ochowicz and I am embarking on a new challenge. I am happy that [Ag2r team manager] Vincent Lavenu has shown such confidence in me, and I intend to give my best in order to achieve great results. The prospect of working with Oliver Naesen, with the goal of winning Classics, is particularly exciting.
"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 Ag2r team manager Vincent Lavenu says the two big name signings will go a long way in helping develop the young riders in the team as well as trying to deliver more immediate success.
“It is a great satisfaction to have secured the signings of Greg Van Avermaet and Michael Schär," Lavenu said.
"Greg is a great champion, showing incredible consistency at the highest level. His experience, his rigor, his hard work will be important in our development project. He will be an example for all our young riders. His bond with his friend Oliver Naesen, with whom he sometimes trains with, will be an added advantage.
"Michaël is one of the best teammates in the world. He will be invaluable in protecting our leaders, whether in stage races or in the classics. He is also a very good time trialist. He will be a pilot fish whose experience will contribute a great deal.”
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