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I was very proud with my 5th place in the Giro d'Italia but this is greater. It's more important to win such a great race ahead of so many great riders. It also shows  what a strong team AG2R is," Betancur says

Photo: A.S.O.






16.03.2014 @ 21:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Carlos Betancur became the first Colombian to win the Paris-Nice when his strong team successfully defended the lead in today's final stage. Despite his impressive fifth place and white jersey in last year's Giro d'Italia, Betancur regards today's victory as the biggest of his young career.


After his excellent showing in last year's Giro d'Italia and Ardennes classics, everybody knew that Carlos Betancur was an excellent rider but in 2013 he was missing that little bit extra that allowed him to win bike races at the highest level. This year things seems to have changed as he has been flying right from the start.


He took his first win for Ag2r in the Tour du Haut-Var when he not only won a stage but also took the overall. Today he took what is by far the biggest victory of his short career when he successfully defended his overall lead in Paris-Nice on the final hard stage around Nice.


The overall win is added to the two stage victories he took earlier in the race and Betancur admits that he had been under great pressure to finish off his strong race in the best possible way.


“To wear the yellow jersey during four days has been fantastic," he said. "This week the Agr2 team demonstrated that it is a great team and this victory is very important for us. My teammates did a huge work to support me and this evening, I'm extremely happy. I’m also proud to bring the Colombian cycling back to the highest level.


" It was very difficult stage to manage. I knew that everyone was going to attack us and that is what happened. Thank God, it was finally a nice day. I was able to rely on a great team that has responded to all attacks.Throughout the week, they showed that we are a great team.


"I came to AG2R because I felt it offered me many opportunities to succeed. I am also a quiet rider and this is a quiet team, which allows me to develop.


"It's a great honour to win such a great race and to show that Colombian cycling is back. I was very proud with my 5th place in the Giro d'Italia but this is greater. It's more important to win such a great race ahead of so many great riders. It also shows  what a strong team AG2R is.


"It is the second biggest stage race in France. The pressure was such that I had trouble sleeping these days. This is a great victory for me. I never thought that I could win here. This is an important step in my career. It gives me motivation and I realize that I can win and I can handle the business.
"I am very proud to wear the colors of Colombian cycling. This is a great time for our cycling. We have a lot of good riders at the highest level. Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran, Darwin Atapuma, Sergio Henao ... It would be nice to be all together in one team.


"Last year I started my season in the Tour of Catalunya. This time I started earlier and it's really a morale booster before the classics. The rest of my program of the season will climax with the Tour de France in which I will have real ambitions.


"What I like best are the grand tours. But I also really like the Ardennes Classics. I respect all riders but nobody scares me!"


AG2R manager Vincent Lavenu was really moved by this first victory in the Race to the Sun by a French team in 23 years.


"23 years is also when our team was created. In the meantime we won the Dauphine twice, we finished thirdh and second here but never managed to win Paris-Nice. It's extremely gratifying to win one of the greatest stage races on the calendar. It also shows that we really have an international calibre.


"Originally we had planned to field Jean-Christophe Peraud on Paris-Nice but when we realised there was no time trial, we decided to opt for Carlos, who would have lost time in a timed effort. He is only at the beginning of a great career and has the talent to one day win a Grand Tour.


“As the days passed, we felt that everything was possible, in particular in Rive-de-Gier when Carlos got the yellow jersey. We knew that he is was in excellent shape in this Paris-Nice and we dared to dream. Our riders showed that they were able to control the race on a World Tour competition and it’s a real pleasure.


"The work done by the whole team this week was amazing and tonight I feel a lot of different emotions:  pleasure, satisfaction but also relief. I thank our partners who trust and support us throughout the season.  I have thoughts for Maxime Bouet who is an important rider of the team and who had to withdraw because of a crash.”



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