Carlos Alberto Betancur
Specialty: Climbing, allrounder
Major successes: Winner Girobio, 2nd Road World Championship Mendrisio 2009
Team 2010: Indeportes Antioquia – IDEA – FLA – Lotería de Medellín
Team 2011: Acqua & Sapone
Best Mock List ranking: new
The Baby Giro (2.2) is in Columbian hands for the second consecutive year. Cayetano Sarmiento owed his 2009 victory to several crashes and mechanicals on the last stage over the Strade Bianche, but Carlos Alberto Betancur won it outright. On the two queen stages to Gallio Melette and up to Cima Grappa, Betancur and his Colombian teammates demolished the rest of the field, and the rider from Antioquia won both stages easily, stamping them with the mystical nationalism, especially showing his extremely aggressive, Colombian riding style on the difficult climbs. Betancur beat his teammate Beltran and the Italian aces by two and a half minutes. No wonder that the race was decided by Betancur before it was half over.
The emphasis of the win might have been surprising, but not the rider. Even as a junior in 2005, Betancur was at the front in Colombian races. He won some small regional races, also in Ecuador. In 2007 he was second in the Colombian national junior road race.
He really got his start in 2009 with his transfer to the U23 class. In his very first start, he won the most important U23 race in Colombia. In the national U23 stage race he won fourth place and did so well in the closing time trial that he finished 11 seconds ahead of Edison Mahecha and could thus celebrate his first major victory. That appearance attracted the attention of the national trainer, who sent him to his first race in Europe. The Giro della Valle d'Aosta (2.2) proved to be a good test for the young rider. Every year the race features all the climbs in the small valley in northwestern Italy, ideal terrain for a Colombian. And even if he didn't do well in the general classification, he made a lasting impression on the mountain ranking. The most difficult climbs like the Col de la Croisette were enough to secure him the jersey of the best climber.
In September he also won second place in the one-day race GP Industria del Cuoio e delle Pelli, leaving the Colombians no choice but to nominate the ambitious young rider for the world championships in Mendrisio the end of September. This proved to be a good move, although the team was a strong one even without the previous year's winner Fabio Duarte, who had moved up. It wasn't enough for another win, but Carlos Betancur was able to outsprint Russian Ego Silin in the sprint for second place behind winner Romain Sicard, thus taking the silver medial in the very difficult race. It was a deserved reward for a very strong team which demonstrated its typical Colombian riding style – going into the climbs from the front and then seeing who could stay with them.
Carlos Betancur or Betancourt – apparently both are used – went from a strong Autumn 2009 to the current season. The first order of business was his defense of the U23 Tour of Colombia. Despite winning the queen stage, Betancur finished only as fifth overall, a disappointment as compared to the previous year. However, if one sees the race only as preparation for the enormously successful Baby Giro in June, then one can be satisfied. In August Carlos Betancur took part for the first time in the pro's Vuelta a Colombia (2.2). He directly won the team time trial with his team, and later brought in a third-place stage finish. The rest of the race was used for learning and to support the eventual winner Henao. He had to pay tribute to the strenuous race and didn't have as successful an Autumn as the year before. But a good placing in the Clasico RCN the end of September can still be expected from Betancur.
Betancur has already shown his class in the high mountains, but because of his explosiveness and sprinting strength, he will probably be a rider for smaller stage races and medium-hard to hard one-day races. How he will continue to develop depends on how his new team for 2011 uses him and in which races he appears. Just as with Cayetanto Sarmiento in 2010, Acqua & Sapone again took the Baby Giro winner under contract. There he will face stiff competition but he will also receive the necessary education, and let's be honest, if he can fly alone up a climb like the Monte Grappa, he can certainly do so on every other climb he might face. He will surely need some time at first, but the young generation of Colombians certainly has the stuff to follow in the footsteps of the great Lucho, Fabio, Patrocinio and Cochise.
Nominated by ocana, ogkempf & Offi, written by ocana, translated by tick