Juan Antonio Flecha announced his retirement from professional cycling at the conclusion of Il Lombardia on Sunday. After finishing 13th in the final monument for the year, Flecha told El Pais that he will say goodbye to cycling forever at the upcoming Tour of Beijing.
"Recently, I suddenly saw everything clearly," he told El Pais. "I saw what I wanted to do with my life and what I had to do."
After finishing 0:55 behind winner Joaqium Rodriquez (Katusha), Flecha was happy with his performance in the last monument of his career.
"I finished 13th," said Flecha. "I didn't know my group was sprinting for a top 10 place, but 13th in the year 2013 is not bad in my last year as a professional cyclist, in my last monument.
"I say goodbye to cycling forever at the Tour of Beijing," he continued. "I cannot wait to finish that race in mid-October and go to Maui, Hawaii, with an open date on the return ticket.
"I’ll swap the asphalt for the foam of the waves, the bike for the surfboard, and walk barefoot all day, and be free."
Flecha stated in August that he planned to continue racing in 2014, but the demise of Vacansoleil appears to have forced his hand. He had been linked to numerous Spanish teams but nothing substantive ever arose.
Departing Vacansoleil manager -Hilaire Van der Schueren- also named Flecha as a possible recruit to his new team that will be an amalgamation of the Vacansoleil and Accent Jobs-Wanty squads, but that no longer appears to be an option that Flecha wants to pursue.
Tour of Beijing, starting October 11th, will now be the last WorldTour race for Vacansoleil and Flecha as they say their respective goodbyes. Having ridden for Ibanesto.com, Fassa Bortolo, Rabobank, Sky and now Vacansoleil, Flecha has become a fan favourite world-wide.
As a Spanish rider seemingly cast of a different mold to his grand tour focused compatriots, Flecha was one for the spring classics with a number of podium finishes at Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders and Ghent Wevelgem proving his class.