Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha believes he still has the strength that brought him his win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and a third place in E3 Prijs. This morning at a Team Sky press conference in Kortrijk, Belgium, two days before Paris-Roubaix, he said, “I am still strong.”
But his win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad came over a month ago and last Sunday at the Tour of Flanders, he lacked the zap to follow Fabian Cancellara on the Molenberg climb. Saxo Bank ruled Flanders to produce Cancellara’s win, driving the race from climb one to Cancellara’s eventual attack.
“Saxo Bank was stronger than Quick Step, clearly, but team Sky showed they had the numbers. We won’t have to profit, or take advantage. We are not going to follow,” Flecha explained.
“I have to adapt to the situation to win. You can’t say now what will happen in Roubaix, there could be Filippo Pozzato or two Saxo Bank riders in the front. If I make it to the velodrome and I have to sprint against [Tom] Boonen or Cancellara in then I will not worry. Remember, when Stuart O’Grady won in 2007, I won the group sprint for second.”
Flecha has the capacity to win the Monument, taking in 52.9-kilometres of the worst cobbled roads north of Paris. He finished sixth last year after a crash in the finale and placed on the podium in 2007 and 2005.
“I remember them all, even my first one, when the results started to come,” he continued.
Yesterday, Flecha reconnoitred the course with his Sky team-mates, covering all the key sectors and finishing in the Roubaix velodrome.
“I was telling the other guys about what gears to use and what tyre pressure. But I don’t have to explain much, even our youngest rider, ‘G’ [Geraint Thomas], knows what to do, he was there for E3 Prijs and Flanders.”
Flecha, Thomas and the other Sky members rode two hours today on the roads around Kortrijk. They will travel to the start of Paris-Roubaix, in Compiègne, tomorrow.