Flecha couldn't have done better

Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) did his best

Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) did his best (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

By Brecht Decaluwé in Meerbeke

Juan Antonio Flecha had his best day ever in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday. The Spaniard from the Rabobank team attacked what was left from the peloton on the Muur in Geraardsbergen, and ended up riding in the main chasing group behind sole leader Stijn Devolder after the famous climb. Flecha's team-mate Sebastian Langeveld was there as well and attacked the group right away. When he was caught back Flecha jumped away and tried to close the gap with Devolder on his own. He came as close as nine seconds, but couldn't get any closer.

Eventually Nick Nuyens caught up with the Spaniard, and in the sprint the Belgian took second place ahead of the 30 year-old. After the race Flecha was more than happy with his result and his performance on the day. "It's been a hard long day out there. It snowed halfway through the race, so if you arrive third after such a hard day it's not too bad. It was almost a perfect race for me. I only didn't catch Devolder, but he is a good rider."

When Cyclingnews asked Flecha if he felt he could've done something different to claim the win, Flecha got a bit annoyed. "Nothing went wrong in my opinion. I tried really hard to close the gap, but I couldn't. I went full on and did my best, but Devolder was too strong for me. Then Nuyens came back and in the radio I heard I had to keep going because the others were coming back."

The friendly Spaniard continued to say how much help he received from his Rabobank team-mates. "Without forgetting the guys who helped me during the first hours, it was fantastic to have support in the finale as well. All my team-mates helped me save a lot of energy."

Flecha even received assistance from three-time World Champion Oscar Freire, who launched a solo attack with just over 50 kilometres to go that started all the fireworks in the last hour. "Oscar tried himself, and Sebastian [Langeveld] was unbelievable today. I don't know if it is his first time here in Flanders, but it seemed as if he had been here ten times. It wasn't only his way of riding, which allowed me to sit back in the chasing group, but also his approach; he wasn't afraid of the race. He was always trying to anticipate, never waiting, and that's impressive. That choice was good for him, and I could profit from it.

The 23 year-old Langeveld was there up until the end, and set up his captain for his podium placing move. "When he was caught by some riders, I could attack from behind their back. You can only have a good result in these races when you have a strong team. On the Muur, [director sportif Erik] Dekker told me to go if I wanted to have a chance. I was attacking early on, anticipating a little bit, and then I hung on. The morale in the team for Paris-Roubaix will be very good. Right now, I'll enjoy this third place first. Nobody should be disappointed."

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