After impressing at this year's Giro d'Italia, Carlos Betancur is set to make his Tour de France debut in 2014. The punchy Colombian finished 5th overall and won the white jersey of best young rider at the Giro and is now keen to make his mark on the grandest stage of all.
"There's no doubt that I want to try the Tour de France. I know what it's like to ride the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, but I''m missing the Tour," Betancur told Revista Mundo Ciclistico. "I want to know how this race suits me, and God willing, I'll ride my first Tour next year."
Speaking to Cyclingnews following the route presentation in October, Ag2r-La Mondiale manager Vincent Lavenu acknowledged that it was a good Tour parcours for Betancur, who is likely to lead the team there while Domenico Pozzovivo returns to the Giro. The Tour features a number of undulating stages before entering the mountains in earnest and, on the evidence of the 2013 Giro, such days could well see the explosive Betancur to the fore.
"I've already spoken to the team and told them that I want to ride the Tour, that it's a motivation for me," Betancur said. "They've said yes, and next week at the training camp we'll define my programme for next year. But as it stands, I'll be going to the Tour in 2014."
Betancur is likely to begin his season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January, and will look for a peak of form in April when he tackles the Tour of the Basque Country, the Ardennes Classics and Tour de Romandie.
The 24-year-old Betancur is part of an exciting wave of Colombian talent that enjoyed results last season to match the halcyon days of the 1980s, with Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran finishing second at the Tour and Giro, respectively. "Colombian cycling is coming on in leaps and bounds right now and I'm sure that we'll have many significant wins in the coming years," Betancur said.
Betancur arrives in Europe this week for a training camp with his Ag2r-La Mondiale squad near Valencia. He will then spend three days in Italy before returning to his native Ciudad Bolívar, in the Antioquia region, for Christmas and the New Year. "The team was quite happy with what I achieved this year, especially in the classics [he was 3rd at Flèche Wallonne and 4th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège] and the Giro d'Italia, and I can tell you that we're very motivated for 2014," he said.