By Gregor Brown in Compiègne, France
Juan Antonio Flecha is poised to become the first Spaniard to win Paris-Roubaix, but that is not the only reason driving him to aim for the top spot. After finishing second in 2007 and third in 2005, Flecha knows that his will emotions and instinct carry him through the 259 grueling kilometres of Paris-Roubaix this Sunday. Rabobank is sending a strong team to help its leader, but will have to be flexible in its tactics.
"Every time that someone asks me the plan, I never know. It is not that I want to hide it, but it is because I don't have any tactics," he said to Cyclingnews the day before the French one-day race.
"If you look at how the race developed in the last years, it is always different. I don't want to be focused on one plan, because that plan my not happen.
"Of course, the Arenberg sector is a really critical moment, you have to be in front there. Then the Mons-en-Pévèle sector and the surroundings are always nasty parts of of the race."
Flecha showed his fiery instinct last Sunday in Ronde van Vlaanderen. He produced a lighting-like attack on the Muur de Gramont that struck fear into his competitors heading into Paris-Roubaix.
If Flecha finally reaches that top step of the podium inside Roubaix's velodrome he would be the first Spaniard ever to do so.
"For me and for my country it would be really nice to be on the top of the podium. The two times I have been there have already been special and I get a lot of recognition from that. If I don't get the top step tomorrow it would still be good for Spanish cycling."
Before Flecha, the only other Iberian to make the podium was Miguel Poblet in 1958 and 1960.
"I want to win Roubaix for the race itself, and then of course the Spanish side of it becomes another story."
Flecha noted there are other Spaniards coming up through the ranks who will join him and triple World Champion Oscar Freire as one-day specialists. He said that we should keep a close eye on the development of José Joaquín Rojas of team Caisse d'Epargne.