Giro and Vuelta for Betancur
Carlos Betancur will ride the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana in 2015 while Romain Bardet and Jean-Christophe Péraud lead Ag2r-La Mondiale's challenge at the Tour de France. Betancur is likely to be joined by Domenico Pozzovivo in the Ag2r line-up at the Giro.
"There's already Péraud and Bardet as leaders, there's no point in going to the Tour with three," Betancur told L’Équipe. "I'm going to concentrate on the Giro and Vuelta. It's a programme that suits me well."
Betancur finished an impressive fifth in the Giro in 2013 and was pencilled in to make his Tour de France debut in 2014. After victory at Paris-Nice, however, Betancur's season unravelled and he missed the Tour after failing to return to Europe on time from a trip home to Colombia, citing illness. He dismissed reports that he had attempted to negotiate his departure from Vincent Lavenu’s team during the summer but admitted that spending protracted periods of time away from his home in Colombia can prove trying, particularly as his first child is due in February.
"I really wanted to do the Tour de France [in 2014]. I wanted to come back to Europe but I wasn't well," he said. "I've decided to start from zero and begin my story with Ag2r-La Mondiale again. Although I still need Colombia. I need to see my loved ones. The very lack of that often affects me."
Betancur will begin the new campaign at the Tour de San Luis in January. His excess weight garnered headlines during the early season of 2014, but the Colombian believes he is on the right track this time around.
"I still have a little weight problem, and I'm maybe carrying three or four kilos too many but I feel better than in previous years," he said. "Excess weight has always been my little problem, although that didn't stop me from winning Paris-Nice when I wasn't at 100 percent of my condition."
Nibali's got mail
Vincenzo Nibali has revealed the contents of the email of reprimand that he and his Astana teammates were sent by general manager Alexandre Vinokourov following the squad's sub-par start to the season. News of the email first broke in Gazzetta dello Sport in June, although at the time it was erroneously reported that Nibali was the only recipient of the message.
Speaking in an interview with Tuttobici, Nibali said that he still had the email, dated March 18, stored on his phone. "It was an email sent to the whole team. I never deleted it. Some things you never delete," he said.
The email is reproduced in full on Tuttobici and includes the reminder from Vinokourov that "results and WorldTour points are indispensable to the serenity of the team."
"The balance sheet up to today, March 18, is too poor considering the quality of our team and the image of our sponsors," Vinokourov wrote. "We mustn't simply show the jersey in some races, but above all get podium places […] I don't want to hear any more excuses in this moment but rather see nice victories."
Nuyens and Sanchez still out in the cold
2011 Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens is still without a team for the coming season. The 34-year-old has spent the past two seasons in the colours of Garmin-Sharp, but without any significant results. His 2014 campaign was also complicated by minor heart surgery.
Nuyens told Het Nieuwsblad that there is just one team still interested in his services for 2015 and that he is now waiting on their decision. If he is not offered a contract, he will call time on his professional career.
"I want to clarify as soon as possible but I can’t force things," said Nuyens, who has not issued an ultimatum to the unnamed team. "It would be incredibly stupid to miss out on a contract because I set a deadline. They are the last team that I'm talking to. If they say no, then I'll stop."
2008 Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez also risks remaining on the sidelines in 2015. He spent 2014 at BMC following the demise of Euskaltel-Euskadi, but was not retained by the squad and has so far been frustrated in his search for a new for the coming year.
"Samuel has always been ready to make financial sacrifices but he wasn't prepared to sign for any price, either," his agent lamented to L'Équipe. "The leads are being narrowed down and his future in the peloton is compromised."
Sanchez, of course, is no stranger to late negotiations. The 36-year-old only put pen to paper with BMC on February 2 this year after it appeared as though his career had come to a low-key end.
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