Everyone from Team Sky, including special guest James Murdoch, cheered Juan Antonio Flecha as he entered the velodrome with Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) to fight for the places on the podium. For a few moments they hoped he could perhaps take second behind Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), but in the final metres of the final lap of the circuit Hushovd dived down the banking and snatched it from him in the sprint.
Yet Flecha was still happy with third and after a just few moments of reflection, so was everyone at Team Sky. It was the team's first podium place in one of cycling's big five 'Monuments' and an indication the quality and ability of the British team, despite only being a few months old.
Flecha is one of the nice guys in the peloton. On the podium in the centre of the Roubaix velodrome, he seemed as happy for Cancellara as he was for himself.
"I'm happy with my ride because I was on the podium again. I worked the hardest in the finale, but Hushovd said he had cramps. He beat me in the sprint but it's not that important. Second or third is still a good result. And I'll be back next year to try again," he said.
"I'm really happy for myself and I'm really happy for Fabian. We raced together at Fassa Bortolo and we're good friends. Winning Flanders and Roubaix is something really special."
"He was the strongest and the one who took the biggest risk by going so far out. Not many people can do what he did. You need balls to do that and Fabian has got them."
Sunderland proud of Team Sky's podium spot
Team Sky directeur sportif Scott Sunderland won Paris-Roubaix with Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady during his tenure as a director at Team CSC. But he was equally as satisfied to have played a key part in Flecha's third place in this year's race. He directed the Team Sky riders from the team car and was rightly proud of the team's result on the pavé.
"Cancellara is in a different league at the moment. He was so strong. But I think it's right to say that Flecha was second strongest because it took three other guys to pull him back when he attacked in sector six. At the end it was him again on the Carrefour de l'Arbre. Hushovd was just sitting on his wheel and couldn't pull."
"I told Flecha on the radio as we were coming to the velodrome that we were all proud of what he'd done. When you can't win, a place on he podium in the next best thing. We all put so much into this race, so to have someone on the podium means we were up there. Second or third doesn't really matter. The most important thing is that he gave everything he could and so did all the other boys and everyone on the team. We're a new team and this was super important to help us to grow. Next year we'll do better."
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