Freire rues unspectacular 2009 season, facing final year in 2010?
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Freire rues unspectacular 2009 season, facing final year in 2010?

by Conal Andrews at 7:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

For many years, Oscar Freire had an ability to take major victories despite struggling with injuries. A lack of racing didn’t appear to affect his form, and the Spaniard was able to capitalise on the periods when his body did co-operate with him. Those victories include three wins in the world championships, netted in 1999, 2001 and 2004.

Freire has been trying since then to net one further title, thus surpassing others such as Eddy Merckx and clocking up the most rainbow jerseys by an Elite rider. However his results haven’t been up to their usual high standards of late; he took twelve wins in 2008, but that dropped to just two in 2009.

“It was definitely not my best year,” he admitted on the Rabobank website. “The season is over, and it will soon be forgotten.”

Freire took second on stage three of the Tour of California, before hitting the tarmac later in the race. "I started the season poorly and broke a few ribs in a crash," he said. He fought back to net 14th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, showing he’s still one of the best sprinter-climbers, then clocked up two stage wins in the Tour de Romandie and had three top-three placings in the Tour de Suisse.

Those results gave him hope that a good Tour de France was in store. It was good, but not great; second in Barcelona and third into Tarbes would be as close as he could get to a win. "I was in good shape in the Tour, but with Columbia there, it was very tough,” he admitted, referring to Mark Cavendish’s dominant leadout train.

He had similar frustration in the Vuelta, netting third and seventh on stages. Fifteenth in a tough worlds road race showed he was in good shape, but fifth in Paris-Tours and third in the Clásica Cancún in Mexico were his only reward. "The form was ok, but unfortunately I’d no [big] results," he said.

Freire will soon start what could be his last season as a pro rider. The 33 year old knows that time is running out and he wants to leave a real mark. "I want to win a great classic yet again,” he said. “But the Tour and World Championships are also targets for me.”


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