Romain Sicard (Europcar) was quietly - and rightly - satisfied with the day's gains at the Vuelta a Espana, despite finishing 16th on the line behind stage winner Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida). The Frenchman regained nearly four minutes on race leader Fabio Aru (Astana) and moved up to 10th overall on GC thanks to a successful breakaway in stage 13.
13th overall last year in the Vuelta and therefore arguably a very distant threat to Aru, the Italian nonetheless specifically named Sicard as one of the reasons why Astana had not been prepared to let the daylong break gain much more than four minutes advantage.
"It was a good move for GC," Sicard said to Cyclingnews between swigs from his bidon a few minutes after the finish. "There was a chance and we had to take it."
"From tomorrow [Saturday] onwards I'll concentrate on defending my placing, it will be difficult because I'm fighting against the top names, but you have to be ambitious."
Despite the breakaway being so large, with 24 riders, the 2009 U23 World Champion said, "it was a good one. Lampre having three riders in there helped us open up a good gap and we took advantage of that. At first there wasn't so much collaboration, but by the end we were all working well."
Sicard was not the only overall contender in the move - fellow-breakaway Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quick Step) is now ninth on GC.
As for after the Vuelta and looking at 2016, Sicard said his future "was not yet clear. But the latest news about the squad [Europcar] and whether the team will continue has been good, so we're all hopeful." Meanwhile, the Frenchman will concentrate on flying the flag for Europcar in the Vuelta.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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