Betancur will stay at AG2R, says Lavenu

AG2R-La Mondiale manager Vincent Lavenu has rejected claims that the team has agreed to release Carlos Betancur from his contract at the end of the season.

"All of this came from Italy," said Lavenu to L'Equipe, in reference to claims Betancur’s agent Giuseppe Acquadro made to Cyclingnews earlier this month. "He is still under contract until 2016 and he will stay, that’s for sure… We have discussed the problems and they have been sorted. With that, we make a fresh start."

Betancur is currently riding the Vuelta a España for the team, where he has been seen trailing off the back on most days. He looks like a shadow of the rider who won two stages and the overall classification at Paris-Nice earlier this year. The Colombian currently lies second to last in the general classification, 52:42 off the race leader Michael Matthews and less than six minutes off bottom spot.

Tensions have been high between Betancur and the team he joined in 2013, since he failed to return to Europe to race the Tour de Suisse. He was later diagnosed with the cytomegalovirus and missed the Tour de France, but the damage to his relationship with the team had been done. "I really struggled to absorb the fact that he did not show up for an appointment we set him in June," said Lavenu.

Despite this, the AG2R manager says that he is willing to give his rider a second chance. "During our discussions, Carlos showed some goodwill. We must start again with a clean slate. I know sportingly speaking he has character and he’s a tough guy," he explained.

"He's not an easy boy to work with. He’s a pure talent, but you have to behave like a top athlete. I know he's homesick regularly, he arrived in Europe at a young age, but he must learn to live with us and fit into our philosophy, and not we with his. If necessary, we can bring those close to him, his family and his girlfriend to Europe, to make him feel less alone."

Betancur's contract with AG2R-La Mondiale is due to run until 2016.

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