French pro Romain Sicard has been forced to retire early at the age of 33 due to a heart problem.
The Total Direct Energie rider says his condition has been monitored more closely than is normal over the past three seasons, and that in February this year he was told to stop racing due to the issue with his heart.
"Around February 1, I was told that I could not resume at the start of the season. At that time, I was still in the dark. I wasn't sure what to expect," Sicard said. "These last two months were very long. The worst part is when you are in the dark and you don't have a concrete answer. Last Tuesday I didn't receive great news. At least I'm fixed now."
Sicard has raced professionally since 2010, riding for Euskaltel-Euskadi for four seasons before moving to Europcar, Total Direct Energie then taking over as sponsors of the French team.
The Frenchman won both the U23 World Championships Road Race and the Tour de l'Avenir in 2009, taking one victory during his professional career at Subida Naranco, also in 2009, for Continental outfit Orbea - Oreka SDA.
"Today, [it's proof that] the health monitoring of our riders is working," Total Direct Energie boss Jean-René Bernaudeau added. "The exams are even more extensive than before. This allows them to have guarantees on the practice of their sport. The FFC's medical check-up revealed a cardiac pathology in Romain that was incompatible with the pursuit of his activity as a professional cyclist.
"I heard the news when I was driving my car. It was hard to take. I was waiting for the good news and unfortunately it did not arrive, quite the contrary. When he told me it wasn't good, I was a bit shocked. Romain is a super honest and reliable guy who represents the spirit of the Basque Country. He is a very important rider who brought serenity. He was entirely part of our system for the next Tour. Now it is health first and foremost. I told him about [his] real life that is [now] beginning…"
Sicard rode 13 Grand Tours between 2012 and 2020, his highest finish being 13th at the 2014 Vuelta a España.
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