Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was some way over his ideal racing weight at the recent Tour de San Luis but the Colombian is confident that he will be in top form by the time the Ardennes classics come around in late April.
“I normally suffer in excessive heat, and I did even more so here because I’m carrying a few too many kilos. It’s been a bit difficult for me but the important thing was to clock up the kilometres,” Betancur told Biciciclismo.
“The last few days, I felt better. I’m going home with some race sharpness now, and training will be easier. I found it tough, especially on the climbs, but my condition will improve gradually.”
Betancur finished the Tour de San Luis in a lowly 111th position, over 45 minutes down on his fellow countryman Nairo Quintana. According to Biciciclismo, he is currently six kilograms in excess of his racing weight of 56kg, and Betancur acknowledged that he had deliberately relaxed during his off-season at home in Ciudad Bolivar.
“When I’m off the bike, I like to enjoy life, and in Colombia we eat very well and I picked up a bit of weight. But when I get to Europe, I’m very attentive and I focus 100 percent on the bike to do things well,” Betancur said.
“I will start to train with my coach, Michele Bartoli, and do some very demanding training so I’m ready for the classics and also for Romandie.”
Weight loss will be an important part of that training regimen, although the 24-year-old Betancur explained that it is something that happens almost organically once he returns to his European base in Italy.
“I go out training quite late, at half ten or eleven, after a breakfast of cereal and skimmed milk. When I get back at four or five in the afternoon, I have a fruit salad with yoghurt. Then in the evening, I have meat and a salad. That’s what I’m used to and it helps me lower the weight easily.”
Betancur had an impressive classics campaign in 2013, attacking on the Mur de Huy en route to 3rd place at Flèche Wallonne, before taking a solid 4th place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège the following Sunday. Under the tutelage of Bartoli, the winner of La Doyenne in 1997 and 1998, Betancur is aiming to improve on that showing this season.
“After last year, I have great motivation to prepare better and do them well,” he said. “I was the rider who went on the attack at Flèche and Liège, and I want to be in good condition to do that [again].”
After riding the Tour de Romandie at the end of April, Betancur will train in Colombia for a month before returning to Europe at the beginning of June, ahead of his Tour de France debut. After finishing 5th overall at last year’s Giro d’Italia, he will lead Ag2r-La Mondiale’s challenge in July.
“I’ll be back in Europe a month before the Tour, and I’ll take the chance to look at some of the climbs from the Tour and race either Switzerland or the Dauphiné,” he said.