Betancur not guaranteed Vuelta a Espana start

Carlos Betancur is still not certain of a place in AG2R-La Mondiale’s team for the Vuelta a España later this month. Betancur is on the team’s long-list of 11 riders but he could miss out on selection when the team make their final decision after the Tour de l’Ain, which finishes this Saturday. Domenico Pozzovivo, who is racing in France this week, will lead the French squad and is the only confirmed rider on AG2R's Vuelta team.

It has been a poor season for Betancur with DNFs at Strade Bianche, Tour de Romandie and the Volta a Catalunya. He was hoping to challenge for the GC at the Giro d’Italia but a difficult first week saw him slip down the standings. He went on the attack towards the end of the second week and finished second to Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) on a rain-hit stage 11 and eventually finished 20th overall.

Betancur has not competed since finishing the Giro in May. The Colombian has often struggled with staying in Europe for long periods of time and the team decided to send him home over the summer to spend time with his wife and son, who was born in February. “It was decided that Carlos wouldn’t race after Giro d’Italia,” the team told Cyclingnews.

“He returned to Colombia and was with his family. Family is very important for him and the new born baby changes his life. He needed to stay home during this time.”

Betancur returned to his European home in Italy at the beginning of August, with his family in tow. He had been down to ride the Tour de Pologne but only arrived back in Europe on the Friday, too late to begin the race that Sunday. His next race was to be the Tour de l’Ain but AG2R-La Mondiale’s directeur sportifs decided that he wasn’t in good enough shape to compete. If he is selected for the Vuelta, it would mean that he goes into the race without racing for three months.

Betancur currently has no races confirmed on his schedule and a decision will be made on the remainder of the season following the Vuelta a España announcement next week. Betancur has had a strained relationship with his team, after failing to return to Europe when expected last season. He remains contracted to the team until the end of 2016, however.

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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.