Freire wants Rabobank’s backing for Amstel, says Gesink is not a winner
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Freire wants Rabobank’s backing for Amstel, says Gesink is not a winner

by Conal Andrews at 9:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Amstel Gold Race
 

Rabobank’s Oscar Freire wants team leadership for the Amstel Gold Race, despite the fact that his team-mate Robert Gesink placed third overall in the event last year.

The Spaniard won Milan San Remo and, having won world championships on hilly courses, feels that he has the condition to challenge for this Sunday’s event.

As a result, he wants the team to fully back his chances, believing that while Gesink is a better natural climber, that he has the correct mentality to go for the victory.

“Gesink is not a real winner,” the 34 year old told De Telegraaf, in a rare outspoken moment. “In races he always rides well. But winning is a different story.”

While Gesink would dearly love to win on home soil, he is hampered by the fact that he does not have a good sprint finish. Freire does, however, and as he has returned to his best form in 2010, he clearly believes that he can be there when it matters.

The Spaniard has a solid, rather than spectacular history in the race. He was fifth and ninth on the old course with a flatter finale, netting those results in 2002 and 2000 respectively, but was also twice in the top ten on the new Cauberg finish. He was eighth in 2007 and tenth in 2005.

Freire rode aggressively last year, going clear in several breaks, but was hauled back before the finale. He was ultimately 65th, over four minutes back, and clearly burned all his matches in the early moves. A change in tactics is likely this year.

The triple world champion was trying to take a record fourth win in the Brabantse Pijl yesterday, but ultimately had to be happy with ninth place. The peloton was unable to haul back breakaway trio Sebastien Rosseler (Team Radioshack), Thomas De Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator ) and Jurgen Vandewalle (Quick Step), and more riders succeeded in jumping away before the finish.

However if things go to plan on Sunday and he can show his self-belief for Amstel is justified, he may land an altogether bigger win.

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