By Gregor Brown in Valkenburg, The Netherlands
Spain's Oscar Freire, three-time World Champion and winner of the recent Gent-Wevelgem, is entering the finale of his spring season with the Ardennes Classics. The 32 year-old, working as co-captain in the Netherlands-based Rabobank team, finished 19th at 56" back in Sunday's Amstel Gold and is looking ahead to the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday before taking a break.
During the Dutch one-day Classic Freire, who finished fifth in 2002, kept a low-profile until the finale. He and team-mate Robert Gesink helped Rabobank make the final selection that produced a nine-man move with one of their team leaders, Thomas Dekker. The duo maintained their position in the group that lagged just behind the leaders heading into the race-ending climb up the Cauberg.
Three days following Amstel Gold, Wednesday, Freire will line up with the team in Charleroi for the start of the Flèche Wallonne. "I will race Wednesday, Flèche Wallonne, and then also Liège-Bastogne-Liège," he confirmed to Cyclingnews.
The rider known as 'Oscarito' is one of the most versatile sprinters in the peloton, often appearing in slight uphill arrivals. Even so, he will have a hard time staying with the light-weight explosive riders on the Mur de Huy of Flèche Wallonne – his best result was fifth in 2005 – and Liège-Bastogne-Liège's arrival in Ans – 14th in 2002 and 2006.
Freire plans on relaxing back at his home-base near Mendrisio, Switzerland, before building for the second part of his season, which include the Tour de France and a role in Spain's team at the Olympics. He confirmed, "After that I will have a bit of a break because I have to do the Tour de France, and also the Vuelta a España and the Olympic Games. It ends up being a very long season for me."