Juan Antonio Flecha is looking forward to taking on a leadership role at his new team Vacansoleil-DCM and has an eye on a future career as a directeur sportif. The Spaniard is also looking forward to riding for himself and hopes to win another stage at the Tour de France in July.
Flecha has ridden professionally since 2000, with a variety of teams. Most recently he was with Team Sky from 2010 to 2012.
“Due to my experience, I am expected to provide leadership. It is in my nature to provide leadership to the team; it was no different in my previous teams,” he said in a team press release. “I want to make sure that we are not too easily impressed as a team, or get too excited. And to make sure we make the right decisions, at the important moments.”
While he enjoyed his time at Team Sky, Flecha said: “You do not have the freedom to pursue your own success. The interests are different. There is nothing wrong with that per se but I still have my own ambitions, and if I want to fulfill them, I had to go to a team where I was given freedom. To feel happy and to keep my motivation, I have to be able to attack.”
He is now ready “to be the Flecha again, who I always was. A stage victory in the Tour de France is high up on my list. I know that would never happen with Sky, but I know I have it in me, so I want to grab that opportunity.”
At 35 years old, he knows that the end of his career is coming closer. “Everyone has a sell-by date, but there is no point crossing out the days on a calendar until it's over. I sometimes hear from ex-riders that they had suddenly had enough. Maybe that is how it works. I am dedicated to what I am doing, not to what I will be doing in the future. The day will come, but I am not very worried about it yet.”
Flecha sees good chances at his new Dutch team. “You don't want for anything here. The equipment is up to scratch, it has good staff, the motivation of the riders is excellent. It is an 'open' team and the atmosphere is very relaxed. Nothing is based on your passport. Marcato is not undervalued because he is not from the Netherlands. I also appreciate the involvement of partners like Bianchi. Everyone wants to contribute to improvements. That is also part of my job."
He is interested in sharing his experience, not only now but also in the future. “I am here for this team to be utilised. It is great to see others improving that way. That is why I am interested in the idea of a future as a sports director. I am not afraid to talk and to get my point across. During meals and training sessions, I have already been able to communicate some ideas.”