The French WorldTour squad has announced a new big-money sponsor in car manufacturer Citroën for 2021, as the team rebuilds around a new core of Classics riders.
But after the departure of Romain Bardet for Team DSM, Ag2r does not have their home hero for the Tour, setting team boss Vincent Lavenu on the hunt for a new star rider.
In an interview with French newspaper Sud Ouest, Lavenu said: “You’ve first got to check that they’re on the market, but that should be the case. We won’t hold back on seeing what our chances are.
“He’s a rider that people really like, one of the best in the world. If you have a partner of the calibre of Citroën, there’s no reason not to try. But there’s time for that…”
Reigning world champion Alaphilippe is currently contracted with Deceuninck – Quick-Step for 2021, but Ag2r could begin contract negotiations to sign the 28-year-old.
According to Sud Ouest, Ag2r’s budget has grown to €23 million (£21 million) for 2021, with the potential for more to sign Alaphilippe.
The Frenchman has spent his entire career with Belgian team Deceuninck, having signed with Patrick Lefevere’s squad in 2014.
He has already had huge success with his current squad, winning Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche, Flèche Wallone and the World Championships.
But after two remarkable Tour de France rides in 2019 and 2020, many cycling fans have questioned whether Alaphilippe could one day become a Grand Tour contender, after he wore the yellow jersey for two weeks last year.
Alaphilippe recently said the Tour is the race he would most like to win in theory, but said he wasn’t going to target the race.
Ag2r has made a number of big signings for the Classics, including Greg Van Avermaet from CCC Team and Alaphilippe’s team-mate Bob Jungels.