Triple world champion Freire to lead Katusha in Santos Tour Down Under
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Triple world champion Freire to lead Katusha in Santos Tour Down Under

by VeloNation Press at 4:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Spaniard starting early in what will be his final pro season

Oscar FreireFollowing the recent announcement that Alessandro Ballan will be one of the BMC Racing Team leaders at the Santos Tour Down Under, another former world road race champion has been confirmed for the WorldTour event. Three time rainbow jersey victor Oscar Freire will lead the Russian Katusha team in the race, which will begin on January 15th.

He will be joined by Maxim Belkov, Giampaolo Caruso, Xavier Florencio, Luca Paolini, Gatis Smukulis and Eduard Vorganov.

“Spaniard Oscar Freire has accomplished what only legends like Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx and Rik Van Steenbergen have been able to do: win three road race world championships,” said race director Mike Turtur, referring to his victories in 1999, 2001 and 2004. “His other impressive results include winning the Milan - San Remo three times as well as several Grand Tour stages.

“In addition, Freire is a four time Tour de France stage winner, a winner of the Tour de France Green Jersey (2008) and a winner of seven stages of Vuelta a Espana.”

The Spaniard had a somewhat quiet 2011 season but is determined to go out on top, hitting top form again in what will be his final pro season before retirement. The Olympics and the world championship road race are two big targets for him, but taking a victory early on in the season will also be on his wish-list, particularly as it will boost his morale.

Turtur recognises him as one of the big draws for the 2012 event. “Oscar is one of the most impressive riders of the last decade and it will be really exciting for fans to see him take to the start line and for him to bring his competitive edge to the race,” he said.

Of the team, several have previous experience of the race. The Spaniard Xavier Florencio and the Russian Eduard Vorganov finished seventh overall in 2003 and 2010 respectively, while Giampaolo Caruso took the fifth stage in 2003.

Rabobank, BMC Racing Team and Sky Procycling have already been confirmed for the race. Edvald Boasson Hagen will lead the latter and with his fast finish, the prospect of big sprints against Freire is a very real possibility.

In addition, the blend of fast, flat stages plus one uphill finish could see both finish very high up the final general classification.


Katusha for Santos Tour Down Under (January 15 – 22):


Oscar Freire (Spain), Maxim Belkov, Eduard Vorganov (Russia), Giampaolo Caruso, Luca Poalini (Italy), Xavier Florencio (Spain), Gatis Smukulis (Latvia).

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