Sicard re-affirms connection to Euskaltel-Euskadi

Romain Sicard re-confirmed on Wednesday in Hasparren, France, that he will ride for ProTour team Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2010. Sicard, who was in attendance at a celebration of his Under-23 World Championship victory, comes from the Basque region of France and has spent this season with Euskaltel's feeder team Orbea.

"Their policy is to focus on the individual," Sicard, 21, told L'Equipe. "Their motto: a good person will always be a good cyclist. I was able to take on this mentality and it has helped me gain confidence."

Euskaltel has a preference for hiring Basque riders, typically from the larger, Spanish sector of the region. Sicard will become only the second Frenchman to join the team after Thierry Elissalde, who rode for the team in 1994 and 1995.

Sicard signed a contract to make the jump from third division, Continental team Orbea to Euskaltel in July. The agreement was made three months before he won the Tour de l'Avenir and the Under-23 World title in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

"I know my results came at the Espoirs level and there is a difference in the ProTour. I will not try to run before I can walk, even if it brings on criticism."

Top French teams Cofidis, Française des Jeux and AG2R La Mondiale all failed to notice Sicard earlier in the year when he won the Spanish one-day classic, Subida al Naranco. An omission that has already begun to haunt one team principal.

"It's true that I regret not being able to have him in our team. I have though of if every day since Saturday," said Cofidis team manager Eric Boyer. "Unfortunately, it's too late. Euskaltel signed him in July, but I'm not sure it was [simply] because he is a good rider; I think they first wanted him because of his regional identity."

Sicard, 1.79m and 62kg, was born January 1, 1988, in Bayonne, France. This year, his first as a professional, he won Subida al Naranco, a stage of the Ronde de l'Isard, a stage and the overall of the Tour de l'Avenir and the Under-23 World Championship road race on Sunday.

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