Just two years on from a complete supplier overhaul, it’s all change at AG2R once again as the team gives both Van Rysel bikes and SwissSide wheels their debut in the men’s WorldTour as Decathlon comes on board as title sponsor for the team, now called Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale.
Van Rysel is the cycling brand of global French sporting goods retailer, Decathlon. The Flemish name translates as “From Lille,” a nod to the location of Decathlon’s company’s HQ in Lille, France not far from the cobbles of Roubaix and Flanders. Or, in other words, bike racing heartland.
2024 isn’t actually Decathlon’s first entry into the WorldTour, though. The team had a long-standing partnership with AG2R in the mid-2000s and supplied the team bikes under both the Decathlon and B’Twin branding in the old ProTour, the origins of today’s WorldTour.
I had an abnormal fascination with those old B’Twin carbon bikes equipped with Campagnolo Record 10-speed groupsets, as even back then, Decathlon demonstrated its bike brand wasn’t simply a tick-box exercise using open-source moulds. Those bikes featured their fair share of weird shapes and design elements, not to mention an extended seat post design, which presumably delivered the opposite of improving ride comfort and compliance.
Fast forward to 2024 and while Decathlon has retained the same uniqueness to its racing bike model, this time its got a fair share of effective shapes and aero design elements. The bike looks every bit the modern all-rounder and features most of the design elements we’d find on frames from brands with a much longer history of producing WorldTour-worthy race bikes.
Better yet, the Van Rysel RCR has a claimed weight of 6.9 kg, making it lighter than most in this space. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Decathlon if it didn’t offer value for money, and the RCR does not disappoint with an RRP of €8,500 for a similar spec’d bike on the shop floor. (international pricing to follow).
Here’s a closer look at AG2R’s Shimano Dura-Ace and SwissSide-equipped Van Rysel RCR as raced at the Tour Down Under.