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The French Connection: AG2R Citroën to reportedly use Decathlon’s Van Rysel bikes from next season

The French sports retailer’s high-end bike line is set to feature for the French road cycling team after nearly two decades, according to rumours (and our predictions!)

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 to launch seven new bikes, including high-end race models

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.

> Van Rysel EDR CF 105 Disc Road 2021

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.

> Decathlon launches bike rentals in all stores across the UK from £40 a day

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by VAN RYSEL (@van_rysel)

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.

> Decathlon launch Van Rysel brand for their performance road bike range

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.

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8 comments

Avatar
Zebra | 7 months ago
1 like

Interesting.  I have often thought that the marketing of bike manufacturers saying that their bike has some significant advantage over others is not borne out by the pro peleton.  We almost never see a rider blame his bike for getting regularly beaten, nor do we often see a rider leave a team or refuse to join a team because they have the "wrong" bike (Rohan Dennis is about the only example I can think of).  If the difference between bikes was that significant, why do we not see one brand dominate most of the races, like in F1 or MotoGP?  The fact that a "cheap" brand like Decathlon can be an acceptable supplier tends to put the lie to the claims of the prestige brands.  If it makes so little difference to the pro's, why would it be of any relevance at all to everyone else?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Zebra | 7 months ago
0 likes

I believe Peter Sagan used to ride a custom frame badged Specialized but built by someone else (or at least custom built for him by Specialized), but in general you are of course spot on. I have a 2014 Btwin Facet 7 (what would now be a Van Rysel) as ridden by the AG2R development squad and the French U19 team that year; it weighs right on the UCI limit and apart from the fact that the Ultegra Di2 is 10 speed instead of 12 speed I'm hard-pressed to tell the difference between it and some of the £5000 plus "superbikes" I've tested/rented/borrowed from friends. Unless the UCI suddenly declares open season with no regulations on equipment whatsoever I don't believe there will ever be a time when the bike really makes a winning difference.

I don't know if this is true or not – I'm sure someone will correct me if not – but I have read that for a major manufacturer producing bikes in bulk (an important distinction because set up costs for moulds are about $60,000) even the highest-end carbon frame costs them around $600 to make. When you look at the wholesale costs of top end groupsets, maybe £2000, and wheels, maybe another £1500, it's clear that the manufacturers are making a handsome profit. Good luck to them, and of course they have to invest in advertising, R&D etc, but it's quite clear that there is a gap in the market for someone to provide top end machinery at a lower price without compromising on quality.

Avatar
Jez Ash | 7 months ago
0 likes

Lille "the unofficial capital of Flanders", eh?

Good way to boost some site traffic from Belgium .... 

Avatar
pkaro | 7 months ago
0 likes

I recommend van rysel to friends who want a cheap banger, but I don't see this brand establishing any real cachet when their Modus operandi is to reverse engineer what others have done and bring copy cat products onto the market.
I'd rather buy an open mould frame than ride that van rysel 'rsr'

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to pkaro | 7 months ago
5 likes
pkaro wrote:

their Modus operandi is to reverse engineer what others have done and bring copy cat products onto the market

I'd be interested to see the slightest shred of evidence for that assertion.

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
2 likes

Two circular spoked wheels, connected by a structure composed largely of two triangular shapes. QED. 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Brauchsel | 7 months ago
3 likes
Brauchsel wrote:

Two circular spoked wheels, connected by a structure composed largely of two triangular shapes. QED. 

It's incredible they've managed to stay out of the courts thus far, really…

Avatar
Morgoth985 | 7 months ago
1 like

Fair play to them I say.

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