Juan Antonio Flecha

  • DOB17 Sep 1977
  • Age36
  • Height 1.81m
  • Weight74kg
  • NationalitySpanish
  • Birth PlaceBuenos Aires, Argentina

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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Flecha set for title defence

Spaniard aiming for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad repeat

By Nick Howes   Last updated: 24th February 2011

Juan Antonio Flecha will be going all guns blazing to try and defend his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad title on Saturday and believes Team Sky have a strong squad in place to try and help him achieve that goal.

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The Spaniard has been in fine form since the start of the season and followed up his top-five finish at the Tour of Qatar with 10th place overall in Oman, despite suffering two nasty crashes in the latter race's prologue.

Since returning to home for a few days rest and recuperation, his thoughts have turned to his beloved cobbled Classics and he is encouraged by the condition he has shown as he prepares for a busy weekend which also includes Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne on Sunday.

He told us: "I am happy with the way I have started the season. I performed well in Qatar and Oman and am really looking forward to the next two races now.

"They were both completely different in terms of the weather and roads, but I enjoyed them both. In Qatar especially, we had to fight a lot on the front on those windy days and I was happy to do that because it was really good training for what is to come.

"The crashes I had in Oman were nothing to worry about really and the stages that followed demonstrated my legs were good.

"I picked up a bit of a cold on my way back from there and since then I have been trying to recover from that. I felt much better on Thursday though so hopefully I should be fine for the weekend now.

"The cobbled Classics are the races I like the most and I'm really looking forward to going out and having some fun."

Happy memories

Last year Omloop Het Nieuwsblad proved the perfect start for Flecha's Classics campaign with the 33-year-old surging ahead on his own in the final 19km and battling on to a famous solo victory.

Looking back on how events panned out that day, Flecha is understandably proud of his achievements, and knows the memories will stay with him for many years to come.

"It's going to be special returning to the race as defending champion and I intend to savour it, for sure," he added. "I have a lot of happy memories from last year, and although I can't really explain the emotions I felt, I remember everything about how the race went and how I felt for me personally at the time.

"Every win is different and every one is special in their own right, but that one is right up there with my Tour de France and Züri-Metzgete performances, and it is special because it was my first cobbled Classics success."

Tough task

And although Flecha believes Team Sky's Classics squad is stronger than 12 months ago, he realises it will be a very tough task to defend his title with such a high quality field making their way to Belgium.

"Of course I will be hoping to go for the win again, but in terms of the race itself, we will just have to see how it goes.

"All I can do is stay focused and try my hardest. I am not putting any pressure on myself and my only really aim is to enjoy the weekend with my team-mates.

"I think the squad has gone to a higher level this season with Jeremy [Hunt] coming in. He has a lot of spirit for these races, and a lot of experience as well. It will also be great to have Servais [Knaven] directing things with Steven [de Jongh] in the team car.

"They both know these races so well and have already proved themselves to be great sports directors. The work they have put in over the winter has been very thorough and that puts us in a really good position even before we start the races.

"I think there are around 20 riders there with me who are in with a good chance of winning though, and you cannot underestimate any of the big guns. As I said before, it's an unpredictable race so we'll just have to see how it goes. I'm feeling good and will give it 100%, that's all you can do."

User comments (2)

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Tom Randall says...

No offence to JA Flecha - but what about Geraint Thomas? - he should be going for the wins in the cobbled classics this year!

Posted 22:38 24th February 2011

Pablo De ory says...

A por ellos, Juan Antonio, que son pocos y cobardes! ;-)

Posted 18:41 24th February 2011

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