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“I gave it my all; I kept going in order to place well. When I caught Stybar I was hoping to be able to bridge up to the two men in front too, it was not such a big gap after all. If you don’t try, you will surely fail," Fl...

Photo: Sirotti








08.04.2013 @ 12:10 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) was once again a key protagonist in the Paris-Roubaix yesterday. After an aggressive race, the veteran Spaniard ended up 8th to take 8th top 10 result in 11 participations in the Hell of the North.


None of the active riders has been as consistent in the Paris-Roubaix in the Paris-Roubaix. After ending 25th and 13th in his first two editions, the Spaniard has been in the top 10 every year since 2005 expect for the 2008 edition in which he was 12th.


Yesterday, he continued his impressive string of results in the race with another aggressive performance. His acceleration on the Mons-en-Pevele sector with around 50km remaining forced the creation of the decisive 13-man group, and from then on the Spaniard kept attacking all the way to the velodrome in Roubaix.


Part of a 5-man chase group behind the duo of Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) and Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack) and a lone Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), he fought for the final spot on the podium by attacking his companions and catching the Czech ahead of him.


Even though he was later brought back and had to settle for 8th, the race was another testament to the attacking nature of the Spanish veteran.


“I gave it my all; I kept going in order to place well," he said. "When I caught Stybar I was hoping to be able to bridge up to the two men in front too, it was not such a big gap after all. If you don’t try, you will surely fail."


Bad luck for Leukemans

The team's other captain Bjorn Leukemans has had a troubled start to the season and he was a shadow of his usual self in the first cobbled races in March. However, he gradually managed to gain back his form and he had a string showing in Flanders.


Continuing the upward trajectory, he felt even stronger in yesterday's race. However, the Belgian was once again unlucky on the French cobbles. After a wheel change, Kris Boeckmans and Wesley Kreder brought him back into the main group, but just as they were getting there a crash happened and unfortunately all three were involved. This happened mere seconds before the race was decided by a first acceleration by Cancellara.


"Bad luck never happens at a good time, but this was the absolute worst time for it”, he explained. “And to make things worse, we fell on top of a flower pot. The group split in two on the next cobble section, I know I had the legs to be in the same group as Flecha. Now I can only hope that I didn’t injure myself, like last year after the Tour of Flanders. 


Leukemans is one of the select few - 4th placed Greg Van Avermaet is another - to both shine on the cobbles and in the Ardennes classics. With the form on the rise, he is optimistic ahead of his next races.


"First I will recover, and then hopefully I will be in the same form for Brabantse Pijl, Amstel Gold Race and Liege. Or even a little bit better," he said.


The Belgian will join up with Wouter Poels, Lieuwe Westra and Marco Marcato to form a dangerous quartet for the hilly classics later this month.



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