Despite skipping a flight and missing races this summer, French team Ag2r will honour its contract and keep Colombian Carlos Betancur through 2016.
“We discussed the unrest and tensions until they eventually settled down,” General Manager Vincent Lavenu told France’s L’Equipe newspaper. “This is not a new beginning, but a start. He is still under contract until 2016 and he will stay with us, that’s for sure.”
When this year’s Paris-Nice winner skipped his flight to Europe in June, it seemed too much for the French WorldTour team. Betancur said that he felt sick and decided not to board the airplane, but never told the team beforehand. An already complicated visa problem worsened and Betancur missed the Tour de France and nearly four months of racing.
“It’s annoying,” Lavenu told Cycling Weekly in June, “there are always problems with him.”
Betancur joined Ag2r from Acqua & Sapone for the 2013 season. In 2013, he finished fifth in the Giro d’Italia, fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and third in Flèche Wallonne. In 2014, he won Paris-Nice and the Haut Var-Matin stage race.
The 24-year-old is part of a wave of Colombians sweeping the mostly European sport. At the Giro d’Italia, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won and Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) placed second. Quintana is currently one of the favourites to win the Vuelta a España where Betancur is also racing.
“Betancur is special. I don’t know if other Colombians are as complicated as mine,” Lavenu said.
“One of the hardest things with Carlos is that he’s attached to his home and he always wants to go home early to stay as long as possible. Staying in Europe has always been difficult for him. We communicate a lot with him but don’t get much in return, that’s very frustrating.”
At the Vuelta though, Lavenu explained to L’Equipe that he and Betancur are trying to find solutions.
“He’s not an easy boy, but you have to behave like a top athlete. I know he’s homesick regularly, but he must learn to live with us and our philosophy, not his. If necessary, we can bring his family, his girlfriend to Europe, to make him feel less alone. During our talks, Carlos showed goodwill.”
Ag2r, reported L’Equipe, will also announce that it signed Belgian talent, Jan Bakelants. Bakelants won a stage at the Tour de France in 2013 when he was still with team RadioShack and this year with Omega Pharma, won a stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné and placed 24th in the Tour de France.
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