Carlos Betancur aiming for the Ardennes and the Tour de France in 2014
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Carlos Betancur aiming for the Ardennes and the Tour de France in 2014

by Ben Atkins at 5:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Spring Classics
 
Young riders’ white jersey “a dream” for Colombian after successful WorldTour debut

carlos betancurCarlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) is heading into 2014 full of confidence after a highly successful WorldTour debut this year. The 24-year-old Colombian had impressed in his two years at Professional Continental level Acqua & Sapone, but moved up a level in 2013 with several high quality results, including third place at la Flèche Wallonne and fifth in the Giro d’Italia.

“I’m facing the year with much more motivation and desire after my WorldTour debut and performing at a high level,” he said.

After his Flèche podium this year, as well as fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Ardennes will naturally be Betancur’s big focus for the spring. Despite not finishing the Amstel Gold Race in 2013, the Colombian can’t choose which one he prefers.

“I like all three,” he said. “The team wants to do well there and I'll be preparing for them in the races beforehand.”

Betancur’s season will begin on his home continent of South America, with the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. The race will not be a target, however, but he will look to arrive in Europe afterwards in the right condition to win.

“In Argentina I'll be at 60-70%, and from there I will travel over for Paris-Nice, which is the first target,” Betancur explained. “I really want to get to the Ardennes in an optimal state because I want to do really well there. This year I was a protagonist and I want to do so again. Win? I want to enjoy those races, it's my mentality. I hope to arrive there in good condition, so I’ll come to Europe a long time before to prepare myself better. This year I will spend more time in Europe mainly to prepare myself for the Tour.”

Having finished just a minute and a half away from the Giro d’Italia podium in 2013, Betancur has raised his sights for next season and wants to take on the Tour de France. To do well in the three-week race, he feels that he must familiarise himself with some of France’s toughest roads first.

“After [the Tour de] Romandie there are two months until the Tour,” he explained. “I’ll spend a month back home and then return to reconnoitre some stages of the Tour, like the pavé, and do the Tour of Switzerland so as to arrive in good condition at the Tour de France.

“To me it’s the World's biggest race,” Betancur continued. “As a kid I always wanted to be there, cheering [Lance] Armstrong and [Santiago] Botero. I’ve ridden two Giri d’Italia, an important and tough race, but the dream of every rider is the Tour because it is where comes of age. I have a lot of respect, but I am eager to do well, and prove that I can do well. The white jersey is a dream. I will work very hard to try to get it.”

Having done so well in 2013, Betancur will be careful not to tamper with a winning formula in the hope of repeating his form this time.

“My preparation this year gave us enough results and so I’ll continue the same,” he said. “Yes I want to do a specific preparation in pavé, because I don’t want to lose too much time. I’ll work very hard, because the truth is I'm not used to them.”

Overall, however, Betancur leaves 2013 behind well satisfied with his first year in the WorldTour, and looking ahead with confidence to his second.

"I'm pleased about my season,” he said. “I did what I could in both the first and second part. For me it was a fantastic year, and it was a big surprise. I expected to be good in all those races but not so far forward, and that gives me motivation for 2014.”

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