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Betancur returns to Colombia to reload for Vuelta, worlds

Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) probably didn’t receive a hero’s welcome when he returned to Colombia this week, but it might be for the last time.

The 23-year-old Colombian was the revelation of the Giro d’Italia, riding to fifth overall and winning the best young rider’s jersey.

Betancur ripped through the three-week race, riding to three second places, one third, and a fourth up Tre Cime di Lavaredo last weekend to secure the white jersey.

“I am very satisfied with this Giro, especially winning the young rider’s jersey. It’s what I had in mind since the start of the race, so I won ‘my Giro,'” Betancur said. “It’s a shame not to have won a stage, but I cannot complain. It was a great Giro.”

After a tremendous first half of the 2013 season, which included a third-place result at Flèche Wallonne and a fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Betancur is taking a break.

He returned to Colombia and will stay in South America until August. This year, there is no Tour de France on his calendar.

Instead, he will return to Europe in August to finish off the season with the same aggressive racing style that caught the attention of the peloton this spring.

Ag2r-La Mondiale officials confirmed that his next European race will be the Tour of Burgos (August 7-11), followed by a planned start in what will be his debut at the Vuelta a España.

Assuming he is selected, Betancur will race the road cycling world championships in Italy, before finishing off his season with the autumn Italian classics — Milano-Torino, Giro del Piemonte, and Giro di Lombardia.

Betancur’s impressive riding has certainly caught the attention of rival teams, but Ag2r confirmed that the Colombian is under contract through the end of the 2014 season.