Spanish Classics specialist Juan Antonio Flecha is looking forward to the coming years with British team Sky. The team announced today that it signed Flecha and other stars for the coming season.
"They have built it with sense, but also passion. It shows a lot about the team's organisation that they developed slowly it over the last two years," Flecha told Cyclingnews.
The brain child of British performance director David Brailsford, Team Sky has been in the works since 2008. After a heavy recruiting campaign, the team announced this week that it has signed top riders like Thomas Lövkvist, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Simon Gerrans.
Flecha is one of the best Spanish Spring Classics riders, having placed third in the 2008 Ronde van Vlaanderen and second in the 2007 Paris-Roubaix. The only other Spaniard to make Roubaix's podium before Flecha was Miguel Poblet, in 1958 and 1960.
Flecha leaves his Dutch Rabobank team after four years and he said he wanted to make the right team selection. Earlier in the year, he began talking with one of Team Sky's directors, Scott Sunderland.
"I liked the sound of the Sky project and the way it was going to be built," Flecha said.
Team Sky has taken several riders from Columbia-HTC, which has dominated the past two seasons. Also recruiting top riders from the American team is the BMC Racing squad. Teams like Sky, BMC and Cervélo are a good sign for cycling, said Flecha. They add to the internationalization of cycling and replace teams that have disappeared, like Crédit Agricole and Gerolsteiner.
"For me it is fantastic, more teams, more competition and the power of the bunch will be split over several teams. Even with all the scandals of the past, we have new teams and new sponsors."
Flecha will co-captain the team in races like Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Gent-Wevelgem with Boasson Hagen and Kurt-Asle Arvesen. He said he may have the best results in the Spring Classics, but he expects the younger riders to come through with their own results.
His placings in Roubaix and Flanders left him with his best sporting memories in his four years with Rabobank. But Flecha wanted to change teams, and he leaves Rabobank on good terms.
"I will remember the staff and teammates, like Pedro Horrillo. Pedro and I shared a lot of moments inside and outside the races, sharing rooms, I will miss him a lot."
Flecha races Paris-Bruxelles Saturday, defends his Franco-Belge win October 1 and Paris-Tours October 11, his last race with Rabobank. He hopes the Spanish director selects him for the World Championships, September 27. The selection will be made in the coming days.
Besides his Spring Classics' placings, he won a stage in the 2003 Tour de France when he was with team iBanesto.com. When he raced with Fassa Bortolo, from 2004 to 2005, he won the 2004 Championship of Zürich and Giro del Lazio.
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