Carlos Betancur, signed by Ag2r La Mondiale for this season, was something of a surprise. After all, the French team isn't famous for its Spanish-speaking riders and Betancur, a Colombian, didn't bring any other riders with him.
But Betancur - like the other 'big name' arrival at the team, Domenico Pozzovivo - had a healthy collection of points which helped the team maintain its World Tour status. All of which goes a long way in explaining the presence of the lone Colombian on the team.
Betancur has produced some decent results for his new team as well - riding strongly in the Tour of the Basque Country (finishing a fighting eighth overall) and his third place in the Flèche Wallonne, where he was only overhauled 50 metres from the line, are not a bad return for the team's investment.
Betancur's third place was the team's best-ever result in a Classic (even if the spine of the team is the old 'Casino' outfit, but we needn't recall Bo Hamburger's Flèche rides). The team also needed a rider who could finish in the top 10 in bigger stage races, with Jean-Christophe Peraud and John Gadret not getting any younger and youngster Romain Bardet still a few years off his peak.
Betancur, who is only 23, rode for Aqua & Sapone in 2012, but "I wanted to move to a team that would enable me to ride races like Liege-Bastogne-Liege and move up to the next level. It was a tough decision because I liked the team and (manager) Vincent Lavenu made me a good offer. I'm getting on well with the whole team, from staff to riders, plus there are quite a few Italian riders in the team, I feel at home."
Betancur feels "at home" with the Italian riders in a French team because he is based in Italy when he is not back home in Colombia and his coach is none other than Liege-Bastogne-Liege (and Classics) specialist, Michele Bartoli.
"It was my old Aqua & Sapone manager Franco Ghini who put us in touch," explained Betancur, "Franco asked Michele if he would be interested in coaching me just over a year ago and he has made a huge difference to my training - he's my secret weapon! Before I was riding for hours and hours and not thinking too much about it, now my training is very specific, much more focused and he seems to know what I need to progress."
And, if all of this sounds too good to be true - after all Betancur is only one of several Colombian riders to break through in the last couple of years - what was his explanation?
"I think the anti-doping is better and also, especially, the biological passport has made a big difference." So, with raging good form, sky-high morale, a team prepared to back him and a former Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner training him, might we see a Colombian on the podium in Liege this Sunday? It really wouldn't be a surprise if there was, not anymore.
Daniel Moreno scores biggest win in Fleche Wallonne
Daniel Moreno solos to surprise Fleche Wallonne win
Spring Classics 2013 coverage index
Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release wherever you are in the world with our iPad and iPhone edition - International digital edition (opens in new tab), UK digital edition (opens in new tab). And if you like us, rate us!
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
Ineos Grenadiers' Spanish-speaking Tour de France trident: Bernal, Martínez and Rodríguez
Form and condition rests will ultimately decide, but at the moment the British team are favouring the two Colombians and the young Spaniard
By Chris Marshall-Bell • Published
Flying Dutchwoman: Lorena Wiebes on pressure, winning at the Tour de France, and leaving DSM
The SD Worx rider won 22 races in 2022, including two stages at the Tour de France Femmes and a clean sweep at the RideLondon Classique. She told Adam Becket how she did it
By Adam Becket • Published