Carlos Betancur wins Paris-Nice 2014
Following an impressive team performance and a clever strategy, the young 24-year-old Carlos Betancur (AG2R LA MONDIALE team) is the first Columbian to win the "Race to the Sun". It's been 23 years since a French outfit won the race, giving Vicent Lavenu's team all the more reason to celebrate. The whole team put themselves on the line to win the prestigious race.
Carlos Betancur, leader in the overall classification, commented:
"It was fantastic to be able to wear the yellow jersey for four days. The AG2R LA MONDIALE team demonstrated this week that it is a major contender and the win is very important to us. My teammates did a great job and I am very happy this evening.
I am also very proud to take Columbian cycling to the highest level."
Vincent Lavenu, Team Manager of AG2R LA MONDIALE added,
"In the past few days we got the feeling that the sky was the limit, especially in Rive-de-Gier, when Carlos took the yellow jersey. We knew that he was in peak form for Paris-Nice and we felt the win was in us. Our riders have shown that they can control a WorldTour race and this gives us a great sense of satisfaction. The whole team put in a sensational performance this week and this evening I am full of different emotions: happiness, satisfaction and also confidence. I'm thinking of our partners, who have confidence in us and support us throughout the season. I'm also thinking of Maxime Bouet, who is a crucial rider in the team and had to withdraw due to a fall."
Betancur showed immense persistence in winning not just two stages and the overall race, but also in amassing points for the UCI WorldTour ranking, catapulting himself into the lead. The team performance also puts AG2R LA MONDIALE in 3rd place in the team ranking.
The Tirreno-Adriatico stage race is currently under way in Italy with a first-class line-up, and the French team has a few contenders in the stakes. In the tough 5th stage no less than three riders made it into the top ten and there is a chance of more excellent results in the overall classification.
"With Jean-Christophe Peraud placed 5th, Domenico Pozzovivo in 8th and Rinaldo Nocentini in 13th, we have a realistic chance of finishing with a top spot," said Team Liaison Manager Martin Böckelmann of FOCUS. "The final classification will not be decided until the last individual time trial over 9.1 km and our riders on the Chrono MAX will fight for every second. After these two outings, I think we also have a realistic chance of finishing high in the rankings in the Spring Classics. Newcomers Sébastien Turgot and Damien Gaudin will make their presence felt at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, while in the Ardennes Classics, Betancur wants to better last year's impressive performances. It must be said that the recent successes and the excellent team morale inspire confidence."