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"Now it's stupid that I lost a little bit of time in previous stages, I made amends with this stage win but I now have great ambitions in this Paris-Nice," Betancur says

Photo: Sirotti








13.03.2014 @ 21:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

On an otherwise bad day for Ag2r-La Mondiale, Carlos Betancur made a big coup when he attacked in the finale of today's Paris-Nice stage and finally outsprinted his companions to take the biggest win of his career. Now sitting just 5 seconds behind Geraint Thomas (Sky), he laments an earlier time loss but says that he has big ambitions for the rest of the race.


Prior to this year's Paris-Nice, Carlos Betancur was widely tipped as one of the big favourites to come away with the win. On a course that suits his punchy climbing style and with a recent Tour du Haut-Var overall win in his pocket, the Colombian was expected to be one of the protagonists.


Betancur tried to animate the race in yesterday's finale of stage 4 but his attacks seemed to lack their usual power. Today he made amends when he showed great wit and tactical astuteness to exploit the fact that race leader Geraint Thomas was isolated, to launch an attack 10km from the finish.


Betancur was joined by Bob Jungels and Jakob Fuglsang and the trio worked well together. In the end he had no trouble beating his companions in the sprint and is now just 5 seconds behind Thomas in the GC.


Those five seconds were exactly the ones he lost due to a split in the finale of stage 2 and he now laments his stupid mistake in that sprint finish.


"I was feeling good physically," he said. "I knew it was going to be a difficult stage with an interesting finale. I maybe attacked a little bit too early but I told myself I was feeling great and the others did not look so strong. Now it's stupid that I lost a little bit of time in previous stages, I made amends with this stage win but I now have great ambitions in this Paris-Nice.


“I carefully studied the roadbook and I saw that the end of this stage could suit me well," he said. "I followed Nibali in the last climb and I have spotted in the first lap that there was a difficult part 8 km from the finish, just after a flat portion. This is where I decided to attack and I have been followed by Jungels and Fuglsang.  We worked well together and I did my best to keep a few seconds ahead the bunch.


"This is a great victory for me and for the whole team AG2R LA MONDIALE in a World Tour race. There are still three stages and obviously, I keep a watchful eye on the overall standings!”


Otherwise, the team had a disastrous day. Romain Bardet and Samuel Dumoulin both punctured when the peloton split on a descent and both lost all their options in the general classification. To make things worse, Maxime Bouet crashed and had to leave the race. He suffered a fracture of the distal end of the left clavicle and a minor chest contusion.


"It could hardly have gone worse with Romain Bardet and Samuel Dumoulin both puncturing in the finale while Maxime Bouet crashed," manager Vincent Lavenu said. "We'll also have to mend our bruises.


"As for Carlos, let's not get carried away, there's still a long way to go and he needs to recuperate. But he's now five seconds behind Thomas and on a terrain that should suit him. To me, he's not a pure climber, more of a puncher-climber in the same mould as Joaquim Rodriguez for instance and someone who can do well in big Tours like he showed by finishing fifth in last year's Giro."


You can read our preview of stage 6 here and follow our live coverage of the stage at 14.25 CET on



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