The UCI WorldTeam AG2R Citroën are reportedly looking to bid adieu to its sponsor and frame manufacturer BMC, and welcome Van Rysel, Decathlon’s performance road arm, for the next WorldTour season after almost 20 years.
Back in January, we at road.cc had prophesised that Van Rysel could be up for a World Tour showing. Now, if the French newspaper Ouest France is to be believed, it could be very close to making its way back to the peloton as a bicycle manufacturer, with AGR2 Citroën switching to Decathlon’s high-end product lineup after three years with BMC.
The French team had signed a deal with BMC bikes in 2021, after the arrival of classics specialist Greg Van Avermaet, winner of 2017 Paris-Roubaix, from BMC Racing Team. But as his contract comes to an end at the end of this year, the team could be set for a bike brand shake-up.
Van Rysel, which is Flemish for “from Lille”, the informal capital of Flanders which hosts some of the most iconic cycling races in the calendar and also has Decathlon’s headquarters, was founded in 2019, and is currently the apparel sponsor for another French professional cycling team Cofidis.
Seeing Decathlon bikes on the World Tour peloton would be an exciting prospect for any road cycling enthusiast, whether it’s someone looking to upgrade their bike from a Decathlon Triban, or someone searching for an affordable race bike.
If it were to happen, the news won’t come as a surprise to us (or our readers), as we had predicted that Van Rysel could be very well be lining up to support a WorldTour team in 2024, with the French company releasing seven new bikes — and some of them really cool high-end models — indicating that it is ready to break new ground and head in a new direction.
Nicolas Pierron, who heads up Van Rysel, mentioned the intent to return to the World Tour stage in an interview with Ouest France last year. The internal code name for the project was titled “Revival”, given the brand’s history with road cycling.
“It's a beautiful legacy. There are still people in the company who knew this time. We are trying to capitalize with them,” Perros added.
Cycling has long been an integral part of Decathlon’s core line of products — a bike was Decathlon’s first product made in-house. Now the sports retailer is heading back to professional cycling after nearly two decades, and eyeing to restore the prestigious history of having its bike being ridden at the highest level of the sport by French teams.
Before its sponsporship with Cofidis last year, Decathlon had also sponspored the French outfit 17 years ago, with its Crono bike being ridden by Cofidis' Tour de France stage-winner Jimmy Casper. And in the early 2000s, Decathlon was also supplying bikes to none other than AG2R, with Jaan Kirsipuu becoming the first Estonian rider to win a stage in the Tour de France with his Decathlon Penta Pro.
However, teaming up with Van Rysel could also mean a departure for Campagnolo, who currently provide AG2R Citroën with groupsets and wheels, however it is yet to be seen if Van Rysel choose to use with the Italian manufacturer’s equipments on its bikes.
Last month, we reported that Campagnolo's new patent applications revealed wireless derailleurs (which we would like to believe as another instance of our clairvoyance, having already predicted it earlier), each with its own SRAM-style clip-on battery rather than a Shimano-esque central battery to power both.
We have reached out to AG2R Citroën for further comment.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.