Former Under 23 world road race champion Romain Sicard is looking to his first French race of 2011. After riding the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol, the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider is motivated for Paris-Nice, even if he remains modest about his possible results.
"I'm a realist - with only the Vuelta a Andalucia in my legs, I'm not competitive enough yet. But Paris-Nice is a race that I respect and I won't go there just to clock up racing kilometres," Sicard told L'Equipe. "Of course, if I have an opportunity, I will try to shine, but I will mostly be there to help my leader Samuel Sanchez."
The 23-year-old is hailed as a future possible Tour de France winner in France but he has opted to develop his career with the Basque team managed by Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. A native of the French Basque region in the Pyrenees, Sicard's integration in the team was a natural process and he hopes that it will allow him to develop gradually.
"I don't want to cut any corners," he told the Sud-Ouest newspaper when asked why his 2011 race schedule did not include the Tour de France as his first Grand Tour. "In protecting me like that, I think that my directors show that they respect me. They think that I'm too young for it and prefer to make me debut at the Vuelta Espana as my first Grand Tour. I discussed it with me teammates and they also think that the Vuelta is more appropriate for me."
The 2010 Dauphiné stage winner has his first major objective coming up in the beginning of April: the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
"The Tour of the Basque Country will be a major event of the 2011 season, where the team wants to shine in front of its fans. This also goes for the Vuelta, as it will go through the Basque Country this year. At the last training camp [in Alicante - ed.], we already started to prepare ourselves in view of these objectives together with our leaders Samuel Sanchez and Egoi Martinez."