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Under-23 World Champion Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Euskaltel-Euskadi rider to skip Vuelta a Espana
Frenchman Roman Sicard has been out of competition since the Tour of Catalonia at the end of March, and it is unknown when he will get back to racing for his Euskaltel-Euskadi team. He has been suffering from weakness in one leg which he and the team's staff have been unable to diagnose. His main goal of the season had been the Vuelta a Espana, but now the aim is to simply race.
"Our goal is for him to race before the end of the season," his coach Josu Larrazabal told Cyclingnews. "It's possible to do it, as he feels better now than a few weeks ago."
The winner of the Under-23 World Championship and Tour de l'Avenir in 2009 came to the Basque team in 2010 with huge promise, but the 23-year-old French-Basque has struggled since February with a strange feeling on his bike: his right leg was weaker than the left one. "Something was wrong in his movements," Larrazabal explained. "First the rider suspected it came from a mistake in the position of his new shoes cleats, but the reason for the problem remain unexplained."
The weakness caused a chain-reaction: the leg which didn't work correctly lost muscular mass and the imbalance threw off his hip alignment. Euskaltel's medical staff feared that Sicard might be suffering a kink in his iliac artery, but medical tests taken on Monday in Oviedo, Spain, revealed a normal blood pressure.
Sicard decided to spend two months in Bilbao, near the headquarters of his team, to focus on physiotherapy. He only went home on the weekend. In the last two weeks he has succeeded in getting back on his bike, and last week he trained two hours a day.
Euskaltel's young rider still follows races on television but he understandably switches off his mobile phone and doesn't reply to emails so often.
His entourage admires his strong determination in his fight to come back. "As he decided to be discreet, I don't want to speak for him," his teammate Pierre Cazaux told Cyclingnews. "But I'm really impressed by his motivation in such a bad time".
"In everything he does, you can see Romain is a world champion," added his coach.