Decathlon unveiled as new title sponsor and bike supplier of AG2R La Mondiale team

French sports retailer pens five-year partnership with French WorldTour team

Clock11:04, Monday 27th November 2023

© Hlénie / Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale

Riders in Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale kit

The AG2R team will have a change of sponsor, name, and equipment in 2024, with Decathlon replacing Citroën as title sponsor, and the French sports retailer supplying bikes, helmets and glasses to the riders.

The French WorldTour team, known as AG2R Citroën Team for the past three years, will be named Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale from January. The riders will compete at the Tour de France and all other races on the calendar using Van Rysel bikes, Decathlon’s in-house bike brand.

The deal will last for an initial five years, running through to 2028. It is, in fact, the resurrection of a former partnership, with Decathlon sponsoring the team between 2000 and 2007, when the riders used Decathlon bikes - being the Penta range at that time.

“This is a new chapter in our history, with a lot of pride and emotion,” said long-standing team manager Vincent Lavenu at a special presentation in Lille. “This five years will take us to real success and objectives."

Decathlon’s CEO, Barbara Coppola, added: “It’s a partnership in every sense of the word.

“We will be with the riders on every step. We are co-creating, we are working hand in hand, on the bikes, helmets, glasses to meet their performance need at the highest level. These products will then be available to the public.”

The French team has been running since the early 1990s, starting out as Chazal before insurance firm AG2R La Mondiale arrived in 1998 to start one of the longest-running sponsorships in professional cycling. Decathlon was on board when the team was known as AG2R Prevoyance from 2000 to 2007 and, after a long period known simply as AG2R La Mondiale, Citroën joined as co-title sponsor from 2021 in a deal that was supposed to last through to 2025 but has now been cut short.

Coming in to the lead title sponsor slot is Decathlon, which was founded in 1976 and has grown in recent years to become the world’s largest sports retailer.

“Did you know, the first product Decathlon offered to the world was a bike – 37 years ago,” noted Coppola, claiming that they’ve become one of the top three bike designers and distributors globally.

“Bikes have played important role in the growth journey of Decathlon. There are millions of children who learn to ride their first bike with Decathlon, and millions of adults using Decathlon bikes for everyday commuting or to do sport.”

Coppola repeatedly outlined Decathlon’s mission to ‘democratise’ sport, and sees the AG2R partnership as an opportunity to expand its presence in the cycling market.

“Professional cycling is only becoming more and more popular with time, and cycling is also becoming a far bigger part of our lives and culture across the world. The timing is perfect and the match between us couldn’t be better.

“Decathlon is aiming at democratising sport, and therefore elevating cycling all over the world. The team will be a symbol.”

New faces and new kit

After unveiling the Decathlon partnership, the team unveiled their new colours and new faces for 2024.

The team had kept a silence surrounding all transfer activity, and used Monday’s announcement to reveal its new signings and full roster for the season ahead.

The biggest signing is that of Sam Bennett, the Irish sprinter who won the green jersey at the 2020 Tour de France but has had a disappointing couple of seasons on returning to Bora-Hansgrohe. He has joined on a two-year contract, as has Victor Lafay, the French puncheur from Cofidis who won a stage of this year’s Tour de France and courted interest from a number of teams, including Ineos Grenadiers.

Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale have also added all-round domestique Bruno Armirail from French rivals Groupama-FDJ and former Belgian national champion Dries De Bondt from Alpecin-Deceuninck. Two more Belgians are arriving in 25-year-old Sander De Pestel from the Sport Vlaanderen Baloise team and the 21-year-old Omloop Het Nieuwsblad U23 winner Gianluca Pollefliet, who has been poached from Lotto Dstny’s development set-up.

With AG2R saying goodbye to Greg Van Avermaet, Clément Venturini, Marc Sarreau, Mikaël Cherel, and Michael Schär, they will have a 28-rider roster, made up of eight nationalities, in 2024.

The team leaders, along with Bennett in the sprints, will be Ben O’Connor, who will likely lead the line at the Tour de France, Benoît Cosnefroy, who’ll target the hilly Classics along with Lafay, and Oliver Naesen for the Flemish Classics. Felix Gall was a breakthrough climber in 2023 and should step up into a leadership role next year, while Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Geoffrey Bouchard are important members of the team.

The riders will wear a new kit that carries on the diagonal format of the Citroën days. The jersey is split into sky blue and white, cut diagonally across the chest, with Decathlon’s logo on the top and AG2R’s on the bottom.

The AG2R logo appears in the company’s trademark brown, although the days of brown shorts – which earned the team a fair bit of ridicule – are now a thing of the past, replaced by black.

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