Paris-Nice winner Carlos Betancur misses flight to France and throws his Tour de France participation in doubt

Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) skipped his flight from Colombia and put both his Tour de France and the rest of the season in doubt.

“It’s annoying,” Ag2r general manager Vincent Lavenu told Cycling Weekly, “there’s always problems with him.”

The 24-year-old Colombian and winner of this year’s Paris-Nice was due to arrive on Tuesday last week ahead of the Tour de Suisse. Instead, he said that he felt sick and skipped the flight.

With his visa to travel into Europe expiring on Thursday last week and little racing in his legs, his Tour de France debut is in doubt. Lavenu added that he might not even race again in Europe this year if he does not get to France soon.

“It pushes everything back. We can get an extension with the French, but if he doesn’t show up by the end of the month, we have to start everything over again in Colombia. It’s put his whole season in doubt.”

Colombians are riding to the top in cycling. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) just won the Giro d’Italia, Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) placed second for a second consecutive year and Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) won the mountains classification and a stage.

“Betancur is special. I don’t know if other Colombians are as complicated as mine,” Lavenu said.

“Every situation is different, every rider’s different, but it’s true that 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. He didn’t take his plane, he said that he didn’t feel good and wouldn’t get on the plane, but at that point, you are dealing with something that already happened. That’s not the way it should work, you should know beforehand. You just don’t not get on the plane and not tell anyone.”

Betancur appeared overweight for much of this season. After winning the Tour du Haut Var, he said he still had to lose six kilogrammes. After Paris-Nice, four.

Following Paris-Nice in March, Betancur pulled out of the Volta a Catalunya, País Vasco and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Liège-Bastogne-Liège, April 27, was his last race in Europe. It could now be a race for him to find a new home as his two-year deal with AG2R expires this season.

Lavenu did not comment on his contract, but continued to express his frustrations with Betancur. “Maybe he can win the Giro d’Italia one day, but it’s really difficult to work with him.”