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Xavier Florencio: Ready for Amstel, Flèche and Liège

Spaniard Xavier Florencio, 28, is looking forward his Ardennes Classics target

Spaniard Xavier Florencio, 28, is looking forward his Ardennes Classics target (Image credit: AFP)

The Ardennes Classics are coming and Spain's Xavier Florencio, winner of the 2006 Clásica San Sebastián, is ready to show his ability to be among the top contenders. Like countrymen Juan Antonio Flecha and Oscar Freire, the 28 year-old of Team Bouygues Telecom is a Classics specialist riding for a non-Spanish team. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez spoke with the well-mannered rider while he was in his hometown Tarragona, Spain.

After starting his year in Australia's Tour Down Under and Spain's Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana - where he finished third overall - a crash spoiled Xavier Florencio's ride in the Paris-Nice. "I didn't do very well because of a crash I had the previous week [in the Clasica de Almeria]," said Florencio with complete honesty, explaining his performance in the prestigious French race. "I hurt my hands because I wasn't using gloves, and with the temperature we had those days, I had my hands and my knees infected. I didn't feel good until the last two days [of Paris-Nice].

Xavier Florencio feels at home in the French ProTour Team, Bouygues Telecom, that he joined with the beginning of the 2006 season. "I get along well with everyone" - noted the fast-finisher - "directors, assistants, riders. There is a good environment.

"First, I thought it would be difficult to be part of a French team considering I am Spanish. Little by little, I adapted myself to the whole group and everything goes fine now."

"I was very fit and had been excited to start Paris-Nice. I couldn't finish the job in Vuelta a Valencia; I couldn't win one stage to finish the job. I took third place in the general [classification], second in one stage, two third places and the regularity classification, which makes me happy. The next day, in the Clasica de Almeria, I crashed and I lost hope for Paris-Nice. My goal and the team goal was Paris-Nice, and I think in Vuelta a Valencia I showed I had very good condition."

The one-day competition in Andalucía wasn't a good step for the Bouygues Telecom rider. "I couldn't finish Clasica de Almeria," he continued. "We rode Clasica de Almeria just to make the numbers - to gain some kilometres - and I was involved in a crash. It was a pity that I had to stay off the bike for four or five days. I went to Paris-Nice thinking that I would recover the good sensations and my hands would get better, but things went upside down. I didn't recover completely due to the rain and the bad weather there."

To read the full interview with Florencio, click here.

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