Colombian set to ride Vuelta a España after long absence
Carlos Betancur will leave Ag2r-La Mondiale at the end of this season after reportedly reaching an agreement with the French team to release him from his existing contract, which was not due to expire until the end of 2016.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on Tuesday, Betancur’s agent Giuseppe Acquadro said that the Colombian will line up at the Vuelta a Burgos and Vuelta a España for Ag2r-La Mondiale in the coming weeks, but will not continue with the squad next season.
Acquadro was vague on the precise reasons for the parting of ways, but stressed that it was a mutual decision that had been reached in consultation with Ag2r manager Vincent Lavenu.
“There were some things that weren’t going well with the team, and it was better to change things. But the team has behaved very well in all of this. We’ve reached an agreement with Vincent (Lavenu) and Carlos is leaving the team on friendly terms,” said Acquadro, who added that the Colombian rider will take his time before deciding on his team for 2015.
“There’s interest from teams but we’re going to see how things go in the races between now and the end of the season. There certainly won’t be any immediate decision,” Acquadro said, with three or four team apparently interested in Betancur and his precious UCI WorldTour ranking points.
Betancur has not raced since Flèche Wallonne in April, and missed his planned Tour de France debut when he failed to return to Europe in June following a lengthy stint at home in Colombia. A bout of cytomegalovirus and difficulties in obtaining a visa were offered as explanations for Betancur’s extended stay in Colombia.
Speaking to reporters during the closing days of the Tour de France, Lavenu described Betancur’s situation as “not simple.” His team compensated well for Betancur's absence in July - Jean-Christophe Péraud claimed second overall at the Tour, while Romain Bardet finished sixth.
Betancur is due to make his belated return to Europe on Wednesday and is penciled in to the Ag2r-La Mondiale rosters for both the Vuelta a Burgos (August 13-17) and the Vuelta a España (August 23-September 14), where he will reportedly target a stage victory rather than a high overall finish.
Winner of Paris-Nice earlier this season, and fifth overall at the Giro d’Italia in 2013, the 24-year-old Betancur carries a sizeable haul of WorldTour points, but it remains to be seen if his chequered second season at Ag2r-La Mondiale will detract from his market value.
Betancur reportedly began the campaign significantly above his racing weight, yet within weeks he had managed to win both the Tour du Haut-Var and Paris-Nice in impressive fashion. However he subsequently fell short of expectations at the Ardennes classics – he missed Liège-Bastogne-Liège due to illness – and has now gone almost four months without racing.
“His value is the same as before,” Acquadro said. “I don’t think it will have gone up or down on the basis of what’s happened in the last few months.”
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