Juan Antonio Flecha: “It's nice to know that I could stay ahead for so long.”
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Juan Antonio Flecha: “It's nice to know that I could stay ahead for so long.”

by Ben Atkins at 3:55 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Breakaway specialist still searching for a second Tour stage, ten years after his first

juan antonio flecha Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) ended the day on the podium of the twelfth stage of the 2013 Tour de France, but not in the way he had intended. The Spanish rider was collecting his award for being the most combative rider of the day, having been in a breakaway for almost 210km, and having refused to lie down even when his four companions were swept up by the peloton.

He had wanted to be mounting the podium as a stage winner, however, for the second time in his career, having done it for the first time way back in 2003.

“We went full gas in the breakaway for 50 km in order to make the gap as big as possible”, Flecha explained to the press afterwards. “We didn’t get more than nine minutes. One rider was having trouble keeping up and that may be what cost us victory. I can imagine the sprinters’ teams have cursed me for not giving in. Maybe they had to make an extra effort for which they might pay the toll later.

“I’m happy with my ride today,’ he added. “As a team, we are really doing well in this race and the atmosphere is great. There will be more chances and we are going to take them!”

Having tasted Tour de France glory ten years ago - when he became the first Argentine-born rider to do so - the Spanish rider has remained consistently one of the most aggressive riders in the race. He has only made the stage podium twice since then, however, with a second place in 2004, and as a member of Team Sky’s team time trial third place in 2011.

This has not been for the want of trying, however, and Flecha is assured to try again before too long.

“I went for the stage win,” he said. “You never know if it will work out or not. I am not a real climber nor a real sprinter. I can do a bit of everything You have to grab your chances when they come. You could say that it was always going to be a sprint, but you can always say that before the race.”

Even though Flecha was unsuccessful this time, his presence at the front of the race meant that his teammates could save their legs in the peloton behind him. Vacansoleil-DCM was among the teams to have its stage ambitions dashed by the crash with just under three kilometres to go, however, that saw less than 30 riders contest the sprint.

His refusal to give up - that saw him caught with just over six kilometres to go - made the teams of his rivals work for their chance to sprint, however.

“I think that the sprinters’ teams were a bit panicked today,” said Flecha. “That worked in the favour of our sprinters, but unfortunately they crashed.

“It was a good fight and I enjoyed it.”


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