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Carlos Alberto Betancur (Ag2R)
Colombian pleased with start to season
The Colombian won the classification at last year’s Giro d'Italia, but has been working hard as he aims to wear the same colour on the podium on the Champs Élysées.
"My main objective is the Tour de France,” he told the website El Colombiano. "I have been carefully lowering my weight, improving my pace and building the kilometres. I want to fight for the young rider’s title at the Tour."
Last year's winner was Betancur’s compatriot Nairo Quintana, who will be riding the Giro this year. Betancur is one of several Colombians to have jumped into the top level of cycling with gusto. He made his WorldTour debut last season with AG2R-La Mondiale and immediately began to find success.
At the classics he outsprinted Dan Martin to take the podium at Flèche Wallonne. Four days later he was pipped to the podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège by Alejandro Valverde. His Classics form carried into the Giro, where he came close to a stage win. Radio confusion meant he incorrectly believed he had claimed glory on stage nine, unaware that Maxim Belkov had crossed the line 44 seconds earlier. The embarrassment was dulled slightly by the winning of the young rider's classification
Betancur began his 2014 season at the Tour de San Luis in January, finishing in a lowly 111th. Things improved at the Tour Méditerranéen, where he helped his teammate Jean-Christophe Peraud to victory on the race’s final stage.
The Colombian will assume the leader's role at the Tour Haut-Var later this week. He is pleased with how his season has progressed, but says some over indulgence during the winter means his season hasn’t started with the bang of last year’s.
"I have been quite quiet," he said. "I put on a bit of weight at the end of the year, so my preparation was a little slower. [San Luis] helped to regain my rhythm and return to competition."
After his racing stint on French soil, Betancur will have a break before riding the Vuelta al País Vasco. He then hopes to repeat the successes of 2013 at the Ardennes Classics.