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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
AG2R Prevoyance
TEAM PROFILE
Jaan Kirsipuu
Country: France
Manager: Vincent Lavenu
Team leader: Inigo Chaurreau, Laurent Brochard
Best Tour: 2002 - stage five win - Jan Kirsipuu
The French team sneaked in as a wild card last time around and, after a string of impressive performances in 2002, have repeated the feat.

Many argued AG2R only made it on as a result of the organisers' desire to have as many French teams lining up as possible.

Their highest individual finish may only have been 41st - Inigo Chaurreau - but they lit up the race with an early stage win from Jaan Kirsipuu.

The Estonian sprinter took the plaudits on stage five after outwitting the remainder of a five-man breakaway.

He came close to repeating the feat two days later, only to be nudged out by that superb lunge for the line by Bradley McGee.

No less impressive was AG2R's Alexandre Botcharov's ride up Mont Ventoux.

The day clearly belonged to Richard Virenque, who was the clear stage victor, but Botcharov's brave ride won his team plenty of TV air time as well as the plaudits of the peloton.

This time around stage wins look their best bet, with Kirsipuu their likeliest exponent in the early parts of the race.

Much more, though, will be expected of Charreau, who failed to live up to expectations following his move from Euskaltel-Euskadi.

There he rode to 12th overall before proving disappointing for much of last year's event.

Undoubtedly he was let down by the lack of strength in depth in terms of mountain climbing class.

The Spaniard will find himself under pressure from new signing Laurent Brochard, who finished last year's race 26th and looks set to be team leader.

The team has known various guises in what is its 12th year in competition.

Controversy has followed them for part of that, most infamously when former team member Rodolfo Massi was later arrested by police investigating drug use during the 1998 Tour.





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