Sicard wins world Under 23 road title

Frenchman solos to claim espoir road race in Mendrisio

It is one thing to start a road race as favourite and quite another to overcome the attendant pressure and back it up with a win as convincing as the one that Romain Sicard (France) pulled off in the Under 23 World Championship road race on Saturday.

Supported by a strong French team, Sicard, the recent winner of the Tour de L'Avenir, played a patient game, waiting until the penultimate lap to make his move, and taking a win he described as a "dream" and "unbelievable".

"It's unbelievable to be sitting here with the rainbow jersey," said Sicard. "It's not often you get the chance to win it in your career. I played a little bit of a bluff. There were still a lot of riders in the final (lap), and I could tell people were really suffering.

"I made a big attack on the last lap and just poured it on all the way to the finish," said the new world champion. "I felt strong at the key moments in the race, and now I am very happy."

Sicard had appeared at the front earlier in the race, but only briefly. That was in stark contrast to his teammates, who were tasked with marking the most dangerous moves. They proved France a constant presence at the front, whether chasing down attacks or infiltrating them.

The Italians and Australians - with time trial World Champion Jack Bobridge particularly active - were also key animators throughout, though both nations left empty-handed. The first Italian - and one of the pre-race favourites, Damiano Caruso - only managed 10th, while the top Australian, Mark O'Brien, was 25th.

The French strategy was clearly designed to ensure that Sicard arrived at the decisive point as fresh and ready as possible, and it was obvious, when that moment came late in the race, that his team's confidence was entirely justified.

Joining Holland's Michel Kreder, who jumped clear early on the penultimate lap, Sicard's timing was also impeccable. The only brief dilemma for him and the French came over the next two kilometres, when a teammate, Nicolas Edet, escaped the chase group to launch his own pursuit of the leading duo. On the one hand, Sicard could wait for Edet and, with two men in the front three, dramatically increase the odds of a French win.

On the other, with a still-large group behind - 50-strong as they started that penultimate lap, but virtually halved by the pressure caused by a string of attacks, including Sicard and Kreder's - that would be a gamble. Sicard, in any case, didn't seem to need extra assistance.

With Kreder, he pressed on as his teammate Edet faded, until, on the same climb that started the final lap, the pre-race favourite dropped his Dutch companion, riding alone for the final 10km to win by 27 seconds ahead of two riders who'd escaped on the final climb to the finish.

It seemed that Sicard's winning move, on the steepest part of of Acqua Fresca, climbing out of the town of Mendrisio, was more a case of Kreder being dropped than the Frenchman attacking, though Sicard suggested not. "I could see Kreder was suffering a bit," he said, "so I decided to attack."

Kreder bravely held on to second place for most of the final lap, but the Duthcman paid for his efforts on Novazzano, the second of the two climbs on the 13.8km circuit, where he was caught and dropped. He eventually finished 33rd.

Behind the triumphant Sicard, one of the chasing pair that formed on that final climb was, inevitably, a Colombian, Carlos Alberto Betancur, who out-sprinted Egor Silin (Russia) for silver. It was inevitable because the Colombians had been even more visible than the French throughout the race - "adding the salt to the soup" as one observer put it later.

Rather than play the patient game, the South Americans were on the attack all day, in what proved to be a more than respectable defence of Fabio Andrés Duarte's world title, achieved with his victory in Varese 12 months ago.

"We came here very prepared," said Betancur. "We wanted to play an important role, and to defend the gold medal won by Duarte. During the whole race, our strategy was to be very proactive."

There was also a courageous late-race effort behind Betancur and Silin by Peter Kennaugh of Great Britain, who launched a one-man counter-attack on the final climb, holding on for fourth to emulate his countryman Ben Swift's performance in Varese, Italy, last year. It completes a trio of strong British performances in the Under 23 race, after Jonny Bellis's bronze medal in Stuttgart in 2007.

"I stuck to the plan," said Kennaugh, a lively presence on the final lap. "Being young, it's sometimes quite hard to hold back in races. You just want to attack all the time, so we've been working on staying patient. It's all about discipline. That's what I did today. [But] I lost a lot of energy on the first climb on the last lap to get across."

Sicard, a 21-year old from the Basque village of Hasparren in the southwest of France, will turn professional with Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2010, doing so on the back of victories in arguably the two biggest races for Under 23 riders: the Tour de L'Avenir and now the world title race.

"It was a very difficult race," said Sicard. "But it's the racer that makes the race, not the course. The real race started in the second half, and the last lap was very tough. But I want to thank my teammates, who helped me a lot." It was a performance - both individually and collectively - that suggests a bright future for French cycling.


# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Romain Sicard (France) 4:41:54  
2 Betancur Gomez Carlos Alberto (Colombia) 0:00:27  
3 Egor Silin (Russian Federation)    
4 Peter Kennaugh (Great Britain) 0:00:49  
5 Jérôme Baugnies (Belgium) 0:00:54  
6 Marko Kump (Slovenia)    
7 Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy (Kazakhstan)    
8 Sarmiento Tunarrosa Jose Cayetano (Colombia)    
9 Matthias Brandle (Austria) 0:01:00  
10 Damiano Caruso (Italy) 0:01:33  
11 Alexandre Geniez (France) 0:01:38  
12 Christer Rake (Norway)    
13 Castroviejo Nicolas Jonathan (Spain) 0:01:40  
14 Sander Maasing (Estonia)    
15 Nicolas Schnyder (Switzerland)    
16 Arnaud Courteille (France)    
17 Nicolas Edet (France)    
18 Adrian Honkisz (Poland)    
19 Peter Stetina (United States Of America)    
20 Dominik Nerz (Germany)    
21 Anatoliy Kashtan (Ukraine)    
22 Kanstantsin Klimiankou (Belarus)    
23 Ben Gastauer (Luxembourg)    
24 Sep Vanmarcke (Belgium)    
25 Mark O`Brien (Australia)    
26 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Colombia)    
27 Mirco Saggiorato (Switzerland)    
28 José Alarcon (Venezuela)    
29 Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa)    
30 Mathias Lisson (Denmark)    
31 Gianluca Brambilla (Italy)    
32 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Colombia) 0:01:44  
33 Michel Kreder (Netherlands) 0:01:49  
34 Romain Zingle (Belgium) 0:02:15  
35 Joel Zangerle (Luxembourg) 0:02:22  
36 Arthur Vichot (France)    
37 Alex Meenhorst (New Zealand) 0:05:21  
38 Leopold Konig (Czech Republic)    
39 Daniele Ratto (Italy)    
40 Thibaut Pinot (France) 0:07:23  
41 Alexandre Shushemoin (Kazakhstan) 0:08:06  
42 Blaz Furdi (Slovenia) 0:08:31  
43 Artem Topchanyuk (Ukraine) 0:08:48  
44 Oleksandr Polivoda (Ukraine)    
45 Martin Mahdar (Slovakia) 0:09:00  
46 Nazar Jumabekov (Kazakhstan)    
47 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spain)    
48 Silver Ao (Estonia) 0:09:04  
49 Rafael Andriato (Brazil) 0:09:08  
50 Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea) 0:09:29  
51 Carlos Alexandre Manarelli (Brazil) 0:09:32  
52 Andrei Krasilnikau (Belarus)    
52 Siarhei Papok (Belarus)    
54 Viesturs Luksevics (Latvia)    
55 Siarhei Novikau (Belarus)    
56 Stefan Denifl (Austria)    
57 Alexander Prishpetniy (Russian Federation)    
57 Pit Schlechter (Luxembourg)    
59 Sondre Gjerdevik Sörtveit (Norway)    
60 Jan Tratnik (Slovenia)    
61 Jahn Frederik Grue (Norway)    
62 David Veilleux (Canada)    
63 Andrey Solomennikov (Russian Federation)    
64 Luke Rowe (Great Britain)    
65 Vojtech Hacecky (Czech Republic)    
66 Romain Beney (Switzerland)    
67 Oleg Berdos (Republic of Moldova)    
68 John Degenkolb (Germany) 0:09:37  
69 Petr Ignatenko (Russian Federation) 0:16:48  
70 Egidijus Juodvalkis (Lithuania)    
71 Ryohei Komori (Japan) 0:18:14  
72 Pedro Merino Criado (Spain)    
DNF Dennis Van Winden (Netherlands)    
DNF Leigh Howard (Australia)    
DNF Steven Kruijswijk (Netherlands)    
DNF Jens Keukeleire (Belgium)    
DNF Angelo Pagani (Italy)    
DNF Diego Ulissi (Italy)    
DNF Jelle Wallays (Belgium)    
DNF Jack Bobridge (Australia)    
DNF Michael Matthews (Australia)    
DNF Juan Villegas (Colombia)    
DNF Thimothy Roe (Australia)    
DNF Niki Ostergaard (Denmark)    
DNF Higinio Fernandez Suarez (Spain)    
DNF Blaz Jarc (Slovenia)    
DNF Jakub Novak (Slovakia)    
DNF Kamil Zielinski (Poland)    
DNF Kenji Itami (Japan)    
DNF Sylwester Janiszewski (Poland)    
DNF Nik Burjek (Slovenia)    
DNF Yoshimitsu Hiratsuka (Japan)    
DNF Martin Reimer (Germany)    
DNF Gregory Obando Brenes (Costa Rica)    
DNF Nelson Oliveira (Portugal)    
DNF Alex Howes (United States Of America)    
DNF Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Colombia)    
DNF Martijn Keizer (Netherlands)    
DNF Tejay Van Garderen (United States Of America)    
DNF Nico Keinath (Germany)    
DNF Sergej Fuchs (Germany)    
DNF Kris Boeckmans (Belgium)    
DNF Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark)    
DNF Peter Sagan (Slovakia)    
DNF Martin Schöffmann (Austria)    
DNF Daniel Schorn (Austria)    
DNF Fabricio Quiros (Costa Rica)    
DNF Andrey Klyuev (Russian Federation)    
DNF Mcevoy Jonathan (Great Britain)    
DNF Rafael Valls Ferri (Spain)    
DNF Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)    
DNF Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)    
DNF Jure Zagar (Slovenia)    
DNF Rasmus Guldhammer (Denmark)    
DNF Chris Barton (United States Of America)    
DNF Ramon Sinkeldam (Netherlands)    
DNF Ablay Shugaipov (Kazakhstan)    
DNF Alfredo Cruz Bernaldez (Mexico)    
DNF Guillaume Boivin (Canada)    
DNF David Boily (Canada)    
DNF Patrick Gretsch (Germany)    
DNF Dementev Yehor (Ukraine)    
DNF Clinton Robert Avery (New Zealand)    
DNF Christian Schneeberger (Switzerland)    
DNF Alexander Kristoff (Norway)    
DNF Jacobus Venter (South Africa)    
DNF Gabor Kasa (Serbia)    
DNF Mark Christian (Great Britain)    
DNF Phuchong Sai-Udomsin (Thailand)    
DNF Mustafa Sayar (Turkey)    
DNF Niv Libner (Israel)    
DNF Armando Aguilar (Mexico)    
DNF Ugur Marmara (Turkey)    
DNF Ran Margaliot (Israel)    
DNF Olamaei Mahdi (Islamic Republic of Iran)    
DNF Erick Rowsell (Great Britain)    
DNF Gideoni Monteiro (Brazil)    
DNF Eyup Karagobek (Turkey)    
DNF Silver Schultz (Estonia)    
DNF Sam Bewley (New Zealand)    
DNF Patrik Tybor (Slovakia)    
DNF Christopher Juul Jensen (Denmark)    
DNF Ricky Eno Jorgensen (Denmark)    
DNF Edgaras Kovaliovas (Lithuania)    
DNF Kirk Carlsen (United States Of America)    
DNF Riccardo Zoidl (Austria)    
DNF Jonathan Fumeaux (Switzerland)    
DNF Patrik Stenberg (Sweden)    
DNF Ryan Anderson (Canada)    
DNF Juraj Sagan (Slovakia)    
DNF Evaldas Siskevicius (Lithuania)    
DNF Jakub Novak (Czech Republic)    
DNF Sebastian Balck (Sweden)    
DNF Jonathan Monsalve (Venezuela)    
DNF Balazs Simon (Hungary)    
DNF Burry Stander (South Africa)    
DNF Gert Joeaar (Estonia)    
DNF Jaroslaw Marycz (Poland)    
DNF Allan Morales (Costa Rica)    
DNF Mirac Kal (Turkey)    
DNF Jakub Kratochvila (Czech Republic)    
DNF Natthapon Jeebthaworn (Thailand)    
DNF Zoltan Vigh (Hungary)    
DNF Khakharman Merey (Kazakhstan)    
DNF Turakit Boonratanathanakorn (Thailand)    
DNF Krisztian Lovassy (Hungary)    


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