Cycling - Sicard and Martinez join Team Europcar

Former under 23 world champion Romain Sicard and French sprinter Yannick Martinez have joined Team Europcar ahead of the 2014 season.

Cycling - Sicard and Martinez join Team Europcar

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Romain Sicard - Euskaltel

Twenty-five-year-old Sicard (pictured) joins Jean-Rene Bernaudeau's squad on a one-year contact after three years at the now-defunct Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Sicard won the Tour de l'Avenir as well as the under 23 world championships road race in a stunning breakthrough season in 2009, but has since struggled with injury.

"Above all I have to thank Jean-Rene Bernaudeau and the whole of Team Europcar for having given me this opportunity to ride for them next season," said Sicard, whose career has been hampered with a muscular problem in his right leg as well as issues with his hip and back.

"I hope to evolve as a rider at Europcar and I think I can above all help out the climbers in the team, which is my area of expertise."

Sicard is friendly with both Kevin Reza and Jerome Cousin from their time in the French youth ranks and the Basque climber is confident he can integrate himself quickly within the team.

"I hope to start at least one stage race and one Grand Tour next season," said Sicard when quizzed about his ambitions for 2014.

"The ideal scenario will be to ride two Grand Tours but all that depends on whether or not Europcar are accepted into the World Tour. We will see in the coming weeks and everything will become clearer."

Sicard rode two Grand Tours in total for Euskaltel, finishing 44th in the 2012 Vuelta a Espana and 122th in this year's Tour de France. Despite his lofty ambitions, Sicard appreciates that it is up to him to prove his worth to his new employers.

"I have to be realistic and I know that it has been a while since I've had some decent results. First of all I will have to think about my responsibilities within the team. I have to show that I am still capable of achieving things. And to do that my initial priority is to integrate myself in the heart of a team which is renowned for its fighting spirit and collective attitude."

Martinez joins on a two-year contract from Pro Continental team La Pomme Marseille. Also 25, Martinez won stages on the Route du Sud and Four Days of Dunkirk this spring and finished third in the inaugural London Ride Classic in August.

By joining Team Europcar, Martinez will get to taste what it is like to ride with one of France's major teams - a prospect the young sprinter is excited, yet understandably anxious, about.

"For sure there is some apprehension from my part because to ride in the Pro Tour will be a big first for me," said Martinez. "I have yet to test myself at this level and with Europcar it is going to be a whole new experience than that at La Pomme Marseille, where most of our races were in France."

Despite his apprehension, Martinez stresses that he is "not worrying too much" about making the step up. Martinez will join fellow French sprinter Bryan Coquard at Team Europcar - and the new recruit said he would be happy to work for the London 2012 silver medallist if need be.

"I could be used as a lead-out in the sprints. I'm not afraid of getting stuck in and I've already told that to Jean-Rene Bernaudeau. I have a good kick and so [leading out Bryan Coquard] would be a task that suits my strengths," he said.

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