Flecha looking forward to taking a break from cycling

Juan Antonio Flecha will bow out of professional cycling, when the Tour of Beijing finishes next Tuesday.

The Spanish cyclist announced after Il Lombardia, last week, that his 14-year career will come to a close. Unlike Marco Pinotti, who also retires after the race, Flecha is still undecided on what he will do once he's retired.

"I just want to enjoy what I've done, take my time and decide what I want to do," Flecha told Cyclingnews, ahead of stage 3 of the Tour of Beijing. "Maybe I will stay in cycling, if I have the opportunity to stay in cycling or not. We will see, but I don't want to rush on that.

"For the moment I will take some time off and enjoy my time, enjoy life and then we will see." Many riders head into sport directing, after retiring. While agreeing that it is a possibility, he says that it's one of many. For now, he is going to be swapping "the bike for the surf."

Flecha's Vacansoleil team are also coming to a close at the end of the season, after they lost both their primary and secondary sponsors. They are one of five pro teams to do so, but he says that this didn't play a part in his decision. Instead, Flecha sees his decision to retire as a moment of clarity, rather than something that was forced upon him. "It was something that I was thinking about since last year," he says.

"When you near the end of your career you think, maybe this is the last one or maybe that is the last one. I was almost 90% decided at the end of last year and coming into the beginning of the season. Then I saw it most clear before Lombardia."

Flecha is a rarity in Spanish cycling. His love of the Classics means that he has spent much of his career outside of Spanish teams. In 2004 he moved from iBanesto.com to Fassa Bortolo, in order to further his chances in the Spring Classics.

"I always wanted to excel in the classics and to do that I needed to be in a team more focussed on those types of races," said Flecha. "I needed to be with all of the equipment for those types of races and all the knowledge and team-mates. That's what I did when I moved from Fassa Bortolo and from then I spent the rest of my career in a foreign team."

Flecha took a number of podiums at Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen, but never managed to climb onto the top step. The best shot he had at victory was finishing in a three-man sprint at the 2005 Paris-Roubaix, where he lost out to Tom Boonen and George Hincapie.

His best result, however, was second in 2007, where he finished 52 seconds down on Stuart O'Grady. Outside of the classics he started 16 Grand Tours and won a stage of the 2003 Tour de France.

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