By Gregor Brown in Roubaix, France
Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha's best ever run in the Classic Paris-Roubaix exploded Sunday when he crashed in one of the race's final cobbled sectors. The Rabobank rider was in the leading group when he slid out on the entrance to the Carrefour de l'Arbre sector of pavé with 17km to go.
"I felt like I was having my best legs ever in Roubaix. I had a good feeling because I was focused and did not even think about my condition," Rabobank's one-day specialist said to Cyclingnews.
Flecha formed part of the six-man winning move at kilometre 211 of the 259-kilometre race. He battled with eventual winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Johan Van Summeren and Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha).
"It was a really windy race and I just tried to let the others do most of the work. I was not thinking about any plan, just to get out of the Carrefour sector and then decide after that point."
Unfortunately, Flecha took himself and both Lotto riders out of the action when he crashed riding through a left-hand turn. Hoste collided into Flecha and his bike and Van Summeren skidded 180 degrees to a stop to wait for his captain.
"Those corners are bad corners, I just slipped way. Then after the bike was damaged. I could not get back because the rings were bent and the chain would not hold."
Flecha complemented the work of his teammates, especially Mathew Hayman. He believes the Australian, fourth in Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday, will be back to win Roubaix one day.
Flecha's best performances in the 'Hell of the North' remains his second place in 2007 and his third place in 2005.