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With new teammates, Flecha still seeks elusive Paris-Roubaix cobble

LILLE, France (VN) — He’s always there. An attacking opportunist, a baroudeur, looking to make a last stand to the line. He’s always close.

Juan Antonio Flecha’s attacking ways have become customary in the bunch over the years. The stage hunter has won a Tour stage and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and he finished second and third (twice) at Paris-Roubaix, his most cherished race.

The Spaniard is in his first year at Vacansoleil-DCM after a three-year stint at Sky, where he won Omloop. However, neither Flecha nor Sky attained monument success. This season, he struck out in Ghent-Wevelgem when he attacked with 80 kilometers to go. He was later joined by the Peter Sagan (Cannondale) group, and he ultimately ended up fifth.

Flecha said on Thursday he was happy with his switch in teams. And of course, he remained hopeful for Sunday’s “Queen of the Classics.”

“I’m really happy. It’s a different role of course. Here there are some young guys who are willing to learn. And of course, we don’t have the strength so far that at Sky I was having last year,” he said. “I’m not frustrated at all. I think I’m performing very well. At Flanders I was having a really good race, and yeah — I [didn’t have] the luck sometimes you need for these races. I had a mechanical problem the second [to] last time up the Paterberg.”

Flecha finished 21st at the Tour of Flanders. His best result was third place in 2008.

“Of course, you want to win always. But that’s not something you can really control,” he said. “I really come to Roubaix with — it’s the race that I like the most. And honestly I just want to go out and have good fun and just really enjoy it.”

Flecha said RadioShack-Leopard’s Fabian Cancellara is the man to beat. So, what’s his strategy?

“Well, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to anticipate Fabian. But let’s see how the race goes,” Flecha said. “It’s not up to me, that’s for sure. Fabian, he’s shown and everybody knows how good he can be in this race. He’s probably at the moment the only guy who can go from a really long distance. He can win in many different races, different ways.”

On Sunday, it’s time to see if anyone — Flecha included — can slow down “Spartacus.”