Juan Antonio Flecha is confident in Geraint Thomas’s capabilities for the cobbled classics. Team Sky’s experienced Spaniard will rely on Thomas in the Tour of Flanders tomorrow and Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.
“I think he’s still in that process of learning,” Flecha said. “Last year, I said it, he’s a rider for the future and he’s just confirming that.”
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Last year, Thomas helped Flecha place third at the E3 Prijs and also went on to support him at Flanders and Roubaix – his debut appearances.
Just over week ago, Thomas finished second in the Dwars door Vlaanderen behind Belgian Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-Sungard). The one-day classic covers many of the famous steep, cobbled climbs used in Flanders.
Flecha has a good eye, he’s raced Flanders for the last nine years. He placed third in Flanders in 2008 and in Roubaix last year.
“I see that he really like to do these races. He loves them, relaxed because he knows he’s going to have lots of fun.”
Thomas won the junior version of the cobbled classic, Paris-Roubaix in 2004. He and Sky team-mate Ian Stannard raced for the national team three hours before the professional race and took in all the cobble sectors following the Arenberg Forest.
In the last turn into the velodrome, Stannard went the wrong way and Thomas rode solo into the velodrome and won. Stannard recovered in time to place second.
“From what I saw, they are both really good riders for these classics,” added Flecha. “The way I see them enjoying these races is just what you need. They can’t wait for Sunday and for the races to begin. They can’t wait for these races to come… They are both performing well and confirming the results.”
Stannard’s result came last week at Ghent-Wevelgem. He escaped with Sylvain Chavanel and Liquigas team-mates Peter Sagan and Maciej Bodnar. With the group on their heels, Stannard attacked at two kilometres, but faded as Tom Boonen zoomed past for the win.
Stannard and Thomas join Edvald Boasson Hagen, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Michael Barry, Matt Hayman and Jeremy Hunt for tomorrow’s race. They will support Flecha, but soon have chances of their own to win cycling’s biggest one-day races.