As one of the top Colombians left racing in the Vuelta a España peloton, Carlos Alberto Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) found himself at the centre of a sea of microphones at the sunlit finish of stage 17 to A Coruña. Colombian TV and radio stations crowded round the 2014 Paris-Nice winner to ask him for his reaction to compatriot Rigoberto Urán's decision to quit the race through illness.
"It's a real pity, his loss isn't just bad for Colombia, it's bad for the Vuelta. He's a major figure in the peloton," Betancur said.
"I wish him all the best to get over his illness and I'm sure he'll be up there in the Worlds" — as indeed Urán was in 2013, when he formed part of the leading break at Firenze until he crashed on a descent on the final lap.
Urán's abandon in the Vuelta after going down with bronchitis leaves Winner Anacona (Lampre), the stage winner to Valdelinares, as Colombia's best-placed gc option — he is currently 19th overall. Coupled with the loss of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Urán's exit means, therefore, it has been a tough race for the South American nation, with Anacona's win as one of the few high spots.
Betancur, meanwhile, may be second last overall, but is still gunning for his chances in the World Championships.
After describing stage 17 as "tough and very hilly, with more than 1,000 metres of climbing, and with a lot of fast racing in the finale," Betancur said his own goals were "to finish the Vuelta as best we can."
"I'm slowly getting better, and then we'll see what the end of the season brings," he concluded - starting, hopefully, at Ponferrada two weeks on Sunday.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.