g-Sicard gives France first under-23 world road title

By Brian Homewood

MENDRISIO, Switzerland, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Romain Sicard became the first Frenchman to win the world under-23 road race championship when he stormed to victory on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, also the first French rider to win an event at this year's championships, finished nearly half a minute ahead of his nearest competitor.

He completed the 179.4km course in four hours 41.54 minutes after breaking clear with around 10km left.

Colombia's Carlos Alberto Betancur snatched the silver medal after overhauling Russia's Egor Silin in the last few metres to also finish 27 seconds behind Sicard.

Betancur was aiming to become the second successive Colombian to win the race after Fabio Duarte last year.

The under-23 race was added to the world championships in 1996.

"It was a very, very difficult race but the racer is more important than the course," said Sicard, who won the Tour de l'Avenir, a nine-stage race for under-23s, earlier this month.

Betancur said he was disappointed not to win.

"We wanted to represent the (Colombian) shirt with honour and take the gold medal back to Colombia," he said.

"We were well prepared for this world championship and we wanted to play an excellent role."

(Editing by Ken Ferris

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