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) TeamResult
1Romain Sicard (France)4:41:54 
2Betancur Gomez Carlos Alberto (Colombia)0:00:27 
3Egor Silin (Russian Federation)  
4Peter Kennaugh (Great Britain)0:00:49 
5Jérôme Baugnies (Belgium)0:00:54 
6Marko Kump (Slovenia)  
7Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy (Kazakhstan)  
8Sarmiento Tunarrosa Jose Cayetano (Colombia)  
9Matthias Brandle (Austria)0:01:00 
10Damiano Caruso (Italy)0:01:33 
11Alexandre Geniez (France)0:01:38 
12Christer Rake (Norway)  
13Castroviejo Nicolas Jonathan (Spain)0:01:40 
14Sander Maasing (Estonia)  
15Nicolas Schnyder (Switzerland)  
16Arnaud Courteille (France)  
17Nicolas Edet (France)  
18Adrian Honkisz (Poland)  
19Peter Stetina (United States Of America)  
20Dominik Nerz (Germany)  
21Anatoliy Kashtan (Ukraine)  
22Kanstantsin Klimiankou (Belarus)  
23Ben Gastauer (Luxembourg)  
24Sep Vanmarcke (Belgium)  
25Mark O`Brien (Australia)  
26Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Colombia)  
27Mirco Saggiorato (Switzerland)  
28José Alarcon (Venezuela)  
29Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa)  
30Mathias Lisson (Denmark)  
31Gianluca Brambilla (Italy)  
32Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Colombia)0:01:44 
33Michel Kreder (Netherlands)0:01:49 
34Romain Zingle (Belgium)0:02:15 
35Joel Zangerle (Luxembourg)0:02:22 
36Arthur Vichot (France)  
37Alex Meenhorst (New Zealand)0:05:21 
38Leopold Konig (Czech Republic)  
39Daniele Ratto (Italy)  
40Thibaut Pinot (France)0:07:23 
41Alexandre Shushemoin (Kazakhstan)0:08:06 
42Blaz Furdi (Slovenia)0:08:31 
43Artem Topchanyuk (Ukraine)0:08:48 
44Oleksandr Polivoda (Ukraine)  
45Martin Mahdar (Slovakia)0:09:00 
46Nazar Jumabekov (Kazakhstan)  
47Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spain)  
48Silver Ao (Estonia)0:09:04 
49Rafael Andriato (Brazil)0:09:08 
50Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea)0:09:29 
51Carlos Alexandre Manarelli (Brazil)0:09:32 
52Andrei Krasilnikau (Belarus)  
52Siarhei Papok (Belarus)  
54Viesturs Luksevics (Latvia)  
55Siarhei Novikau (Belarus)  
56Stefan Denifl (Austria)  
57Alexander Prishpetniy (Russian Federation)  
57Pit Schlechter (Luxembourg)  
59Sondre Gjerdevik Sörtveit (Norway)  
60Jan Tratnik (Slovenia)  
61Jahn Frederik Grue (Norway)  
62David Veilleux (Canada)  
63Andrey Solomennikov (Russian Federation)  
64Luke Rowe (Great Britain)  
65Vojtech Hacecky (Czech Republic)  
66Romain Beney (Switzerland)  
67Oleg Berdos (Republic of Moldova)  
68John Degenkolb (Germany)0:09:37 
69Petr Ignatenko (Russian Federation)0:16:48 
70Egidijus Juodvalkis (Lithuania)  
71Ryohei Komori (Japan)0:18:14 
72Pedro Merino Criado (Spain)  
DNFDennis Van Winden (Netherlands)  
DNFLeigh Howard (Australia)  
DNFSteven Kruijswijk (Netherlands)  
DNFJens Keukeleire (Belgium)  
DNFAngelo Pagani (Italy)  
DNFDiego Ulissi (Italy)  
DNFJelle Wallays (Belgium)  
DNFJack Bobridge (Australia)  
DNFMichael Matthews (Australia)  
DNFJuan Villegas (Colombia)  
DNFThimothy Roe (Australia)  
DNFNiki Ostergaard (Denmark)  
DNFHiginio Fernandez Suarez (Spain)  
DNFBlaz Jarc (Slovenia)  
DNFJakub Novak (Slovakia)  
DNFKamil Zielinski (Poland)  
DNFKenji Itami (Japan)  
DNFSylwester Janiszewski (Poland)  
DNFNik Burjek (Slovenia)  
DNFYoshimitsu Hiratsuka (Japan)  
DNFMartin Reimer (Germany)  
DNFGregory Obando Brenes (Costa Rica)  
DNFNelson Oliveira (Portugal)  
DNFAlex Howes (United States Of America)  
DNFNairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Colombia)  
DNFMartijn Keizer (Netherlands)  
DNFTejay Van Garderen (United States Of America)  
DNFNico Keinath (Germany)  
DNFSergej Fuchs (Germany)  
DNFKris Boeckmans (Belgium)  
DNFTroels Ronning Vinther (Denmark)  
DNFPeter Sagan (Slovakia)  
DNFMartin Schöffmann (Austria)  
DNFDaniel Schorn (Austria)  
DNFFabricio Quiros (Costa Rica)  
DNFAndrey Klyuev (Russian Federation)  
DNFMcevoy Jonathan (Great Britain)  
DNFRafael Valls Ferri (Spain)  
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Poland)  
DNFVegard Stake Laengen (Norway)  
DNFJure Zagar (Slovenia)  
DNFRasmus Guldhammer (Denmark)  
DNFChris Barton (United States Of America)  
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Netherlands)  
DNFAblay Shugaipov (Kazakhstan)  
DNFAlfredo Cruz Bernaldez (Mexico)  
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Canada)  
DNFDavid Boily (Canada)  
DNFPatrick Gretsch (Germany)  
DNFDementev Yehor (Ukraine)  
DNFClinton Robert Avery (New Zealand)  
DNFChristian Schneeberger (Switzerland)  
DNFAlexander Kristoff (Norway)  
DNFJacobus Venter (South Africa)  
DNFGabor Kasa (Serbia)  
DNFMark Christian (Great Britain)  
DNFPhuchong Sai-Udomsin (Thailand)  
DNFMustafa Sayar (Turkey)  
DNFNiv Libner (Israel)  
DNFArmando Aguilar (Mexico)  
DNFUgur Marmara (Turkey)  
DNFRan Margaliot (Israel)  
DNFOlamaei Mahdi (Islamic Republic of Iran)  
DNFErick Rowsell (Great Britain)  
DNFGideoni Monteiro (Brazil)  
DNFEyup Karagobek (Turkey)  
DNFSilver Schultz (Estonia)  
DNFSam Bewley (New Zealand)  
DNFPatrik Tybor (Slovakia)  
DNFChristopher Juul Jensen (Denmark)  
DNFRicky Eno Jorgensen (Denmark)  
DNFEdgaras Kovaliovas (Lithuania)  
DNFKirk Carlsen (United States Of America)  
DNFRiccardo Zoidl (Austria)  
DNFJonathan Fumeaux (Switzerland)  
DNFPatrik Stenberg (Sweden)  
DNFRyan Anderson (Canada)  
DNFJuraj Sagan (Slovakia)  
DNFEvaldas Siskevicius (Lithuania)  
DNFJakub Novak (Czech Republic)  
DNFSebastian Balck (Sweden)  
DNFJonathan Monsalve (Venezuela)  
DNFBalazs Simon (Hungary)  
DNFBurry Stander (South Africa)  
DNFGert Joeaar (Estonia)  
DNFJaroslaw Marycz (Poland)  
DNFAllan Morales (Costa Rica)  
DNFMirac Kal (Turkey)  
DNFJakub Kratochvila (Czech Republic)  
DNFNatthapon Jeebthaworn (Thailand)  
DNFZoltan Vigh (Hungary)  
DNFKhakharman Merey (Kazakhstan)  
DNFTurakit Boonratanathanakorn (Thailand)  
DNFKrisztian Lovassy (Hungary)  


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