Juan Antonio Flecha has signalled the Spring Classics will once again be a major goal as he prepares for his debut season with Team Sky. In an interview with Spanish cycling journal Meta 2 Mil, Flecha reinforced his desire to record a victory in a Spring Classic as he reflected fondly on his time at Dutch squad Rabobank.
In recent years Flecha has confirmed himself as a perennial favourite for the spring Classics. Despite his enigmatic attachment to the series of races traditionally targeted by riders from North of the Spanish border, podium finishes at Paris-Roubaix (2005, 2007) and Ronde van Vlaanderen (2008) have been the closest he has come to the elusive victory.
"I had hoped that I would already have a Classics victory to my name already," said Flecha. "The way I raced in Roubaix this year showed that I have the urge to win; tactically, I raced much better this year, letting others do the work. Second or third place is not worth much to me, but it's never a bad thing to make the podium at one of the Classics. Next year will be all or nothing."
This season, Flecha finished third at the Belgian semi-Classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad [formerly Het Volk – ed] before a crash inside the final 20 kilometres of Paris-Roubaix derailed his plans for victory in the French race. Despite the disappointment of once again missing out on victory, Flecha has been able to draw on the positives of his 2009 Classics campaign.
"It's been a confirmation of my career racing on the pavé, which is what I had sought," he said. "I have been on the podium in Roubaix, Flanders and Het Volk and although I have not yet achieved a victory, I have confirmed that I can still be competitive."
Flecha will enter the 2010 Classics season as part of a new team, Sky. It will be his first new squad after four years at Rabobank, and is confident that the British team will enjoy a successful debut. He indicated that the success of a team new to the peloton this year, Cervélo TestTeam, had reinforced his confidence in the Sky project.
"It all started in January, Sky became interested in me and presented the project. What I was most pleased with was the sporting interest shown in me by both Rabobank and Sky, two of the top teams in the peloton.
"However, like anything new you have to give it time to settle. The way that Cervélo has raced this year has been a real surprise. In the first months of competition they proved to be better organised than teams with years of experience in the bunch. I am optimistic that Sky will be able to do the same."
Flecha will join his new team when he returns from a holiday in Brazil. Despite his imminent departure from Rabobank, Flecha has made it clear that he will leave the Dutch squad on good terms.
"Personally I have been very comfortable here, surrounded by people like [Pedro] Horrillo, [Oscar] Freire and [Juan Manuel] Garate. With Joseba [Nuñez], the masseur, I also had a great relationship.
"With Horrillo I have a special friendship that wouldn't have occurred if it hadn't been for Rabobank. It was a joy to see how Pedro has recovered from his fall at the Giro and returned to his usual self."
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