Freire changing mind about retirement, outlines season programme and goals
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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Freire changing mind about retirement, outlines season programme and goals

by Conal Andrews at 7:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Undoubtedly motivated by the thoughts of taking a record fourth world championship victory, Oscar Freire has backtracked on previous indications that he will retire at the end of the current season.

“More or less I’ve made a decision,” he told Biciciclismo, when asked about his plans. “The truth is that everything happens so fast…I would like to continue in 2011, I probably will continue for another year. The goal is to do well this year and, if so, to continue….if I have a good offer from the team. Two years more, until 2012, is something I see as more complicated, but one year is more sure.”

Freire burst onto the scene back in 1999 when, as a little-known Vitalicio Seguros rider, he outsprinted a group of big names to win the world title in Verona. Although those early years were plagued by injury, he racked up a number of important victories and proved that his rainbow jersey was no flash in the pan. Freire would go on to win twice more; he triumphed in Lisbon in 2001, and again in Verona in 2004, thus equalling the record held by Eddy Merckx, Alfredo Binda and Rik Van Steenbergen.

One more win would elevate him above those famous names and, with the 2010 and 2011worlds being relatively flat, an in-form Freire would be considered one of the big contenders.

2009 was a quiet season for him but he’s determined to get back on track. He outlined his likely season programme, and it will include one big change.

“The different with previous years is the Giro, which I have never raced,” he said. “As it starts in Holland, the team is interested in me riding it. Moreover, my calendar is very similar to three years ago…the last two years I did the Tour of California, but the date of that has now been changed.

“[I’ll do] Mallorca, Andalucía, Kuurne-Brussells-Kuurne, Tirreno-Adriático, Milan-San Remo, Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, and the Vuelta al País Vasco. The other possibility is the Tour of Flanders - but not Roubaix - and Fleche Brabanconne (Brabantse Pijl) then the Giro d’Italia. And then there is the Tour de France…I will not do the Vuelta a España.”

Most recent winners of the worlds ride at least part of the Vuelta, using the Spanish Tour to build their form. This year, there’s an additional week between the end of that race and the worlds, thus increasing expectations that many of the big name riders will be there. Freire often rides better when he is fresh, though, and said that he plans an alternative calendar instead.

He’s clear on what his targets for the seasons are. “I’d like to be good in practically all [the events on his programme] as they are important races, and in the Classics, I’d like to do a good job,” he explained. “I’d like to win a stage in the Giro and do well in the Tour. And then there’s the world championship; all of those are good races.”

The 33 year old signed for Rabobank in 2003 and has been with the Dutch team ever since. He doesn’t envisage changing, saying that he is happy where he is.

“I know this team. It is very good and is organised. I feel very secure here. At this time there are few who meet these conditions. At the sporting level, it’s possible that there are more interesting teams, but if you consider everything, it would be difficult to be better than this team.”

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