Romain Sicard rose from 14th to 12th overall on the seventh and last stage of the Eneco Tour on Sunday.
The talented Frenchman finished the Flanders-like 208km leg from Tienen to Geraardsbergen in the main group of favourites, going close to breaking into the top ten overall. Aside from the 2010 edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné in which he finished 11th, Sunday's result represents his best ever result on the general classification of a WorldTour event. It's also easily his best result no matter the race since taking fifth on the penultimate stage of last year's Vuelta a España.
With Euskaltel's days seemingly numbered, his return to respectable form couldn't have come at a better time. The rumour mill has it that he's attracting glances from, among others, FDJ.fr and Ag2r-La Mondiale.
Another rider who had reason to be content was young Garikoitz Bravo.
The 24-year-old first-year WorldTour rider hung on to claim a creditable 20th overall. As was the case with Sicard, that result is the best he's done all year. While he's finished second and third in the mountains classification of the Tour de Romandie and Tirreno-Adriatico respectively already this year, the Eneco Tour represents his most consistent stage race so far in his young Euskaltel career.
Rubén Pérez tried his luck from far out by infiltrating the day's break, but the veteran eventually had to give best to the chasers and finished the stage almost ten minutes down.
- (1, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), 5:00:03)
- 27, Romain Sicard, 0:39
- 33, Garikoitz Bravo, 1:27
- 34, Miguel Mínguez, s.t.
- 67, Ioannis Tamouridis, 7:24
- 68, Jure Kocjan, s.t.
- 97, Jon Aberasturi, 8:29
- 98, Rubén Pérez, 8:44
- DNF: Juan José Lobato
Final general classification:
- (1, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), 25:14:05)
- 12, Romain Sicard, 2:39
- 20, Garikoitz Bravo, 4:51
- 69, Rubén Pérez, 25:37
- 73, Miguel Mínguez, 26:36
- 82, Ioannis Tamouridis, 29:00
- 104, Jon Aberasturi, 36:07
- 111, Jure Kocjan, 53:23