Fourth in the last edition although he had never taken part in the competition before, Ben O’Connor will lead the AG2R Citroën team in the Tour de France. The Australian can count on Bob Jungels and Geoffrey Bouchard, but not on Greg Van Avermaet, not retained.

AG2R Citroën with Ben O’Connor, Bob Jungels and Geoffrey Bouchard but not Greg Van Avermaet. Revelation of the last edition, which had seen him finish at the foot of the podium as he discovered the Tour de France, O’Connor, at 26, will participate for the second time in his career in the Grande Boucle. Like last year, the Australian will be the leader of the AG2R Citroën teamwhich unveiled this Thursday the eight riders selected by Vincent Lavenu, whose presence of the fourth in the Tour 2021 as leader sounded obvious. Regarding that of Bob Jungels, there was nothing guaranteed before the Luxembourger, back in the foreground, finished sixth in the Tour de Suisse. Absent last year, he will return to the Grande Boucle. The former Deceuninck-Quick Step rider will be one of O’Connor’s lieutenants. This will not prevent him from being able to play his card on certain stages, Lavenu said on Thursday.

Lavenu: “Van Avermaet? A difficult decision »

“Bob will have spaces of freedom to try to win stages. But he will also have to put himself at the service of Ben to accompany him as high as possible. Geoffrey Bouchard will also have his say. At 30, the Burgundian, like his Belgian teammate Stan Dewulf, will compete in his first Tour. He is not unknown, however, since he won the mountain classification of the last Giro and the Tour of Spain, in 2019. Greg Van Avermaet (37), crowned Olympic road champion in Rio in 2016, cannot say the same. On the other hand, the Belgian has already won two stage victories on the Tour and wore the yellow jersey twice, in 2016 and 2018 (eleven days in total). Unlike Mikaël Cherel, the only rider on the team who will overtake Giro and Tour de France, Van Avermaet will however not be there this year. Lavenu had to make choices and the Belgian, despite his brilliant past and his rich experience (he would have participated in the Tour for the tenth time), was not selected. “The sporting aspect, in relation to the mountain, predominated. Last year, Greg was close to elimination. It’s a difficult decision to deprive yourself of a charismatic runner, with a strong record, ”explained Lavenu, almost pained to have to decide. But that’s the rule.

The AG2R Citroën team for the Tour de France : Ben O’Connor (AUS), Geoffroy Bouchard (FRA), Mikaël Chérel (FRA), Benoît Cosnefroy (FRA), Stan Dewulf (BEL), Bob Jungels (LUX), Oliver Naesen (BEL), Aurélien Paret-Peintre ( ENG)