Upbeat Freire aiming for record fourth worlds win
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Upbeat Freire aiming for record fourth worlds win

by Conal Andrews at 4:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships

Outsprinting Andre Griepel, the fastest rider in the Tour Down Under and the 2009 Vuelta a España, has handed Oscar Freire a boost in confidence and shows he is back after a difficult season last year.

The Spaniard took yesterday's second stage of the Challenge Mallorca races, hitting the line ahead of Greipel and Manuel Cardoso (Footon-Servetto) to take the Trofeo Cala Millor. It marked his first victory since stage five of last year's Tour of Romandie and is a welcome return to form.

“In 2009 I started with the Tour of California and had the misfortune of getting hurt,” he told As.com. “I am thrilled to win here [in Mallorca] after not having raced the previous editions. Winning always gives you peace and confidence, regardless of what rivals [you beat]. What I hope is to achieve more important victories later.”

Freire’s biggest season goal is to grab a fourth rainbow jersey in Geelong next October. He burst onto the scene back in 1999 when he out-sprinted a group of big names to win the world title in Verona. He would go on to win twice more, triumphing 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 victory would elevate him above those famous names and, with the 2010 worlds being relatively flat, an in-form Freire would be considered one of the big contenders.

The thoughts of topping the podium there are a big motivation for him. “As I have said, the course seems to be well suited to my nature, without big complications,” he said. “Becoming the only rider in history to win four World is my dream. I hope that I don’t retire without achieving that, even if I don’t obsess about it.”

He said that leadership of the team will be decided in September, with the riders in form being protected. However he clearly feels that he should be supported as he aims for a historic win. “I've shown that you can trust me because I already have three World championships,” he said.

Other goals:

Freire knows that anything can happen in a one-day race, and so he has no intention of banking all his hopes on one day in October. He’s got plenty of season targets, including Milan San Remo.

“The great Classics will be my first target of 2010, and obviously I would be delighted to take a third San Remo. I also want to prove myself in Tirreno [Tirreno-Adriatico] and then go to the Giro, which starts in the Netherlands where Rabobank has interests. Clearly. I’d love a [stage] win in Italy. I’ll try for that.”

When he was struggling with injury, there was talk that this could be his last season as a pro. He now confirms that he will persist in the sport until the end of 2011, if not beyond. Next year’s worlds is also relatively flat and so he has, in theory, two shots at grabbing the rainbow jersey.

“I spoke with the team and I intend to continue at least another year,” he said. “I feel good, I have recovered from the injuries and I like the challenge of continuing to battle.”




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