By Gregor Brown in Montluçon
Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha regretted his attack on stage 19 of the Tour de France that forced him to chase and end his day outside of the time limit. "Shit happens. I will never attack again," Flecha said after entering the team Rabobank bus, according to directeur Sportif Erik Dekker.
The Spaniard finished the stage nearly a half hour behind the main peloton with Frenchman Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and German Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner).
"He blew himself up with the attack on the first climb with Vincenzo Nibali and Jens Voigt - Flecha has the talent to blow himself up," said Dekker. "He was first working alone to chase back and then he was joined by Feillu and Wegmann. They were going well - they were 20 minutes back in the feed and then 29 by the finish.
"Flècha did not feel the pain in his legs after crossing the line, but more in his heart."
Dekker worked with Gerolsteiner and Agritubel in an attempt to persuade the race jury to change the maximum time limit. The stage was classified as 'flat stage' and therefore had a nine percent time cut based upon the winner's time, equating to a time of 19'33 after the winner. "I talked with Gerolsteiner and Agritubel to see if we could get the limit lifted - it did not work. It was at nine percent, and if it was a medium-mountain stage it would have been at 17 percent."
Flecha will now travel back to Barcelona. He plans to ride the GP Plouay and possibly the Clásica San Sebastián before the Vuelta a España. "I want to finish the Vuelta and then race the Worlds - the Spanish team is always strong."