New Van Rysel pro team road bikes and time trial bikes have been seen for the first time at the unveiling of the newly-named Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale team, previously known as AG2R Citroën Team, ahead of the 2024 season. AG2R will ride Van Rysel RCR road bikes, XCR time trial bikes and new Van Rysel kit and accessories (saying goodbye to brown bib shorts in the process), with all the bikes and gear available to buy on Decathlon's UK site and abroad from 2024 onwards.
The news isn't exactly a secret, with a Van Rysel time trial bike prototype sparking rumours that Decathlon was coming back to the World Tour way back in January, and a Decathlon representative also telling us that seven new Van Rysel bikes would launch in the new year. Further leaks confirmed the team partnership and new bikes in September, with AG2R dropping BMC as its bike supplier from 1st January 2024.
The headline sponsor news was a bit of a surprise, and this is the first time we've seen the new team liveried bikes and kit. Decathlon last had World Tour representation in the mid-2000s, with Jaan Kirsipuu bagging the last of his Tour de France stage wins on a Decathlon Penta Pro in 2004 (read all about the bike in this edition of Bike At Bedtime).
A slick presentation fronted by Decathlon bigwigs assured us that no expense was spared when developing the new RCR road and XCR time trial bikes, with the brand taking prototypes into the wind tunnel and enlisting the help of Swiss Side - who are supplying the AG2R team's wheels - to refine aerodynamics. The integrated cockpits have been developed and manufactured with Italian component specialists Deda, are brand new and are specific to the RCR and XCR bikes.
The RCR is very much a bike to rule them all, hitting the 6.8kg UCI limit while being aero AF according to Decathlon's head of product development (not his exact words admittedly, but some of the presentation was in French), so this will be the only road bike available for AG2R riders. Here's a brief spec list for the AG2R team edition RCR road bikes:
Van Rysel RCR Pro frame and fork
Swiss Side Hadron² wheels
Continental GP5000 tyres
Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset
Deda/Van Rysel integrated cockpit
Look Keo pedals
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt computers
Elite bottle cages
There are also new shades and three new helmets that the team will use from January '24. The helmets are called the RCR (road), FCR (aero road) and XCR (time trial), and here are the prices and colourways:
RCR Road (black): £64.99
RCR Road Mips (white or blue): £84.99
FCR (white): £99.99
FCR Mips (black): £119.99
XCR time trial helmet (black): £199.99
The shades are called the Performance 900 and Performance 900 Light, available in numerous spec levels and price points. Here's a summary:
Performance 900 CAT3: £59.99
Performance 900 Photochromatic £89.99
Performance 900 Electro photochromatic lens: £249.99
Performance 900 Light CAT3: £59.99
Performance 900 Light with exchangeable lens pack: £89.99
Performance 900 Light with exchangeable Zeiss lens pack: £149.99
Performance 900 Light Transition for triathlon: £149.99
All the helmets and sunglasses should be available to buy in early 2024.
None of the new bikes and kit are actually on the Decathlon UK website to buy yet (there were some RCR Rival AXS bikes earlier in the year and the listing is still online, but we're told they sold out "in minutes"), and as I was typing this article the brand managers worked diligently to get some more info. That happened just before we left Decathlon's HQ in Lille, and the prices of the bikes will be as follows:
RCR Rival AXS: £4,299.99
RCR Force AXS: £4,999.99
RCR Pro CF Disc Ultegra Di2: £5,499.99
RCR Pro SRAM Red eTap: £8,499.99
RCR Pro Shimano Dura-Ace Di2: £8,499.99
XCR Ultegra Di2 TT bike: £5,999.99
That tallies with what we reported in this September edition of Tech of the Week, although we're now told that among the Dura-Ace models, there will also be a limited number of exact team replica editions available to buy. Assuming it's also priced at £8.5k, that's considerably less than what you'd fork out for some top-tier bikes being ridden by other World Tour teams.
The RCR Pro frameset is also the same in all configurations, so if you were to buy the Ultegra Di2 model, it's still the same frame the pros are using. The standard RCR has a slightly less premium carbon layup, and weighs around 40g more than the RCR Pro frame, which is said to be 790g.
Au revoir brown shorts
We've already reported most of this on our live blog this morning, but just to round up the team news: AG2R Citroën Team has now become Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team, with the French retail giant now on board as the French team's headline sponsor from 1st January 2024. AG2R's World Tour team has a roster of 28 riders, the development team has 10 riders and the U19 team will have 15 riders (all are men's teams currently).
Six new riders have joined the senior team, including Sam Bennett and Victor Lafay, and the binning off of the aesthetically-divisive brown bib shorts from the new team kit ensemble may be a relief for the newbies... or they may be disappointed, such is the divisiveness of brown cycling shorts.
There was a lot of talk about "democratising sport" from Decathlon's CEO Barbara Martin Coppola at the presentation, something that perhaps doesn't exactly dovetail with becoming the title sponsors of an elite road cycling team; but this partnership is part of a wider strategy for Decathlon to increase its presence in the cycling sector, so we were told.
Decathlon also boasted that it wants to become "one of the top five global cycling brands" during its five-year partnership with AG2R. It's a lofty ambition, but one that's probably not out of reach at all for the largest retailer of sporting goods in the world.
How will Sam Bennett and Co get on with their new steeds? We'll look forward to the 2024 season to find out, and have also been promised a new RCR bike, some shades and helmets to review ourselves in the new year...
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.