The Fat Man hangs on to first.
Carlos “Extra Kilos” Betancur of Ag2R still holds the leaders jersey in Paris-Nice with one final stage to go.
Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) took the win today but Betancur took third behind Rui Costa and has 14 seconds on the World Champion. Mr Tubby also finds himself 26 seconds ahead of Zdenek Stybar of Omega-Pharma Druga.
Sadly, Geraint Thomas crashed in the final 5k and lost seven minutes so Betancur can cross the Welshman off the list of rivals. Bummer for Sky and even more so for Thomas who was having a fabulous Paris-Nice.
As Cycling Weekly notes, tomorrow’s final stage will be a cracker — that’s Brit talk for a “wild” one. We quote their stage preview: “five climbs all crammed into 129 kilometers of racing, including two category one climbs in the second half.”
While Tirreno-Adriatico is finally picking up speed and action, it looks like Christian Prudhoome’s new Paris-Nice route will indeed be judged a dramatic success, with a good number of riders still in contention. No summit finishes, no time trial, just plain old spine-tingling suspense.
Vincent Lavenu, Betancur’s boss at AAG2R, isn’t shocked that the Colombian is doing well, he just didn’t quite expect the man to dominate Paris-Nice. “We are not surprised to see him posting results, because that is what we expect of him, but we are surprised to see him winning so early. He’s clearly not yet in top shape.”
According to the scale and the team, Betancur is about 5 kilos over his ideal 60k race weight. Which seems incredible given how well he’s riding. This puts Betancur in the freak category and we’ll have to keep an extra close eye on him.
Lavenu is clearly happy that Betancur is riding for his blue and brown formation. “He has an interesting future. He clearly has the motor and he’s very ambitious. He is a classic puncheur. He reminds me a bit of Joaquim Rodríguez.”
We’ll see just how much Rodríguez he has in him tomorrow. If he’s still got his overweight punch, he’ll win Paris-Nice, the Race to the Sun — and in Betancur’s case, perhaps a race to dinner.