With the reveal of the 2024 bikes for the team that will be known as Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale next season, here is a look back at what the French squad has raced since 2005.
– By Rob Arnold
Let’s take a walk down memory lane as we race towards the start of a new season of pro cycling. In the first of what will be a series about team bikes, RIDE Media has compiled a collection of bike images from over the years. With only a few more weeks with a car brand as a co-title sponsor, AG2R Citröen Team will soon be rebranded to Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team.
One result of this change of partners is a doozy of a hashtag that was spelled out in ALL-CAPS upon launch of the new title: #DECATHLONAG2RLAMONDIALETEAM – you GOT THAT!?
The good news, of course, is that predictive text means fans won’t have to spell out that 28-letter summary each time they share some thoughts on the team that now includes the green jersey winner from the 2020 Tour de France, Sam Bennett.
The Irishman is one of the additions for 2024 but other recruits for the new season include Bruno Armirail (who wore the maglia rosa during this year’s Giro d’Italia while racing with Groupama-FDJ), TDF stage winner Victor Lafay (from Cofidis), and Dries de Bondt (from Alpecin–Deceuninck).
Full Circle: Decathlon returns
Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you’ll find a gallery of images showcasing the range of bikes and groupsets used by one of the long-standing teams in the pro peloton. (Note: missing from the sequence are the bikes raced in 2008 and 2020 – BH and Merckx, respectively.)
Presented with the latest bikes at the top you’ll see that the Van Rysel brand is about to enter the WorldTour for the first time. This is the house brand of title sponsor Decathlon which has previously had strong links with the team (back to insurance company AG2R and various other co-sponsors) since 1998.
At the bottom of the page is the aluminium-framed, Campagnolo-equipped ‘Decathlon’ bike raced by Simon Gerrans in 2005.
Gerrans is the first of several Australians who have lined up with the French team when he joined Vincent Lavenu and his cohort at the start of the 2005 season, the year he made his TDF debut.
In 2024, Ben O’Connor remains one of the leaders of the team and he admits that a bit of good fortune would serve him well if he is to improve on his stellar debut season with AG2R Citröen Team in 2021 when he finished fourth on GC in his first TDF appearance.
The other Australian link with the team is promising 18-year-old Oscar Chamberlain from Canberra. The teenager won the world title in the junior time trial earlier this year and finished second in Paris-Roubaix Juniors in April.
Chamberlain is part of the development team that shares the same name as the WorldTour squad.
Goodbye Campagnolo, hello Shimano
For a few years AG2R Citröen Team was one of the last of cycling’s top-tier teams to race with Campagnolo groupsets. That partnership spanned the last four seasons (and was also part of previous sponsorship agreements) but there have also been dalliances with Shimano and SRAM in the past.
In 2024 the Van Rysel bikes will be spec’ed with Shimano Dura-Ace and so it’s goodbye to Campy, and hello to Di2.
There is a wealth of other changes to the team as the new season approaches but for now we’ll let the pictures tell the story. Scroll down the page to compare one season to the next. One thing soon becomes obvious: bikes have changed a lot since 2005… even if this team has remained one of the stalwarts of the peloton all that time.