Only weeks ago, Ireland’s Nicolas Roche was the clear leader of Vincent Lavenu’s Ag2r-La Mondiale squad for the Tour de France. Following good showings in last year’s Tour (15th) and the Vuelta (7th), a good 2011 Tour de France didn’t seem too far off for him. Earlier this year it seemed as if Roche’s slowly improving performance had finally earned Lavenu’s blessing to be the squad’s Tour captain as Frenchman John Gadret (Ag2r’s only other GC option) was scheduled for the Giro d’Italia instead.
But Gadret‘s renaissance in this year’s Giro has catapulted the introverted climbing specialist into the spotlight. A confident late attack netted him a stage win in the early part of the race when the GC contenders weren’t giving away much leash , and consistent riding earned him 4th place overall, the best GC ride in a grand tour for a Frenchman in a long time. As a result, Lavenu is now publicly musing that Gadret should ride (he is) and perhaps lead the team at the Tour this year.
As covered by VeloNation, Gadret himself allowed this much, “If I go to the Tour, it will be as a support rider for [Jean Christophe] Péraud and Roche. It’s the same for Hubert [DuPont],” although he added, “unless I feel very strong or if Vincent asks me to fight.”
Has Vincent Lavenu lost his mind by cultivating such a convoluted leadership situation? Will Roche recover in time from his Dauphine crash? Does Ag2r have any hope of fielding both riders and not have a civil war?
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