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"It wasn't emotional. Not at all. The real retirement was with the Tour of Lombardy last week. That was the last important race for me," Flecha tells Cyclingweekly

Photo: Sirotti






15.10.2013 @ 19:44 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

True to his nature, Juan Antonio Flecha ended his career by going into the breakaway on the final stage in the Tour of Beijing. Admitting that he had already been contemplating retirement in 2012, he feels ready to hang up the bike.


The final stage of the Tour of Beijing was the goodbye race for one of the most dominant classics riders in the last decade. After Il Lombardia, Juan Antonio Flecha announced that the Chinese race would be his farewell ride and so his career came to an end when he crossed the line in Beijing earlier today.


Flecha has been an atypical Spaniard who was more focussed on the classics than on grand tours. He excelled in the cobbled classics in which he was one of the most consistent riders of the past decade. Since 2005 he has only missed out on the top 10 in one edition of Paris-Roubaix and finished on the podium no less than 3 times with the 2nd place in 2007 being his best performance.


In 2008 he finished 3nd in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and he finished 2nd in the 2005 Gent-Wevelgem in one of the most dramatic editions of the semi-classic where Nico Mattan was clearly paced by race cars and passed Flecha just before the line when the Spaniard had almost locked up his first big one-day win. In 2010 he finally got his big classics win when he triumphed in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but the big monuments always eluded him.


In additions to his classics exploits, Flecha is known as one of the most aggressive riders in the peloton who won a stage in the 2003 Tour de France from a breakaway. Hence, the only fitting way for him to end his career was by entering the break in today's final Beijing stage.


However, Flecha didn't regard it as anything special.


"It wasn't emotional. Not at all," he told Cyclingweekly. "The real retirement was with the Tour of Lombardy last week. That was the last important race for me."

Many would think that his retirement is a consequence of the demise of his Vacansoleil squad but the Spaniard refuses that suggestion.


"When Sky offered me a two-year contract, I thought, I don't know if I want to do two years," he said. "I know what you are thinking, maybe since the team is stopping... Ask my agent, I told him that maybe I'll only race one more year. We got a two-year deal with Vacansoleil just to be safe, but I was already thinking about it last year in the Giro. At Christmas, I said to my family, there's a big chance this season is going to be the end."


Flecha was a perennial top 10 finisher but won very few races. One win is dearer to his heart than any other.


"The Tour was something special. If I could only keep one win, that'd be the one I'd keep," he said. "I could've won more but that's what I have. I have to be happy with what I've done. A Paris-Roubaix win would've been perfect. Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen won many times in the last 10 years, there wasn't much room left. I'm not disappointed, though."


Flecha will now travel to Hawaii for a holiday where he will consider his future. He believes he will return to cycling, maybe as a sports director, but until December, it's all about resting and relaxation after 14-year carrer.



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