By Shane Stokes in London
Triple World Champion Oscar Freire is uncertain about his chances in the Tour de France following a reoccurrence of the cyst, which ruined much of his 2005 season.
The talented but fragile Spaniard told Cyclingnews on Thursday afternoon that he intends to take to the start in London on Saturday, but will play it by ear after that.
"I crashed twice in the Tour de Suisse but recovered okay from that. But now I have another problem, a problem with my rear end. It is the same problem as I had three years ago. I was operated on then and lost two months, but this time the problem is that it is only four days before the Tour de France and it is not possible to rest. I have to wait until Saturday and then we will see how it is.
"I expect to be starting, but we will see. If it is getting worse than it is the best thing to start, because my experience is not very good of this thing. Three years ago I continued for one week with this problem and then I was operated on afterwards."
Freire said that he was unsure as to the reason why the problem flared up again. "I changed my saddle and I did two days of long training; then the day afterwards, it was bad. I was using the same kind of saddle before, so it is not my first time with it. I don't understand why there is a problem."
He noted that he was happy with his general condition. "Other than that I am happy with my form. ... We will see now, we are in a different race. However, it is not nice when you start like this. Four days ago I was perfect but now it is a different situation."
Time constraints and the medical rules applying to riders means that there is only so much he can do. "Before the start of the race all I can do is take a rest today, and also use some cream on the area. That's all I can do. The best thing would be to stop for one week, but now it is not possible."
Freire has a very strong sprint and has proven he is the equal of all of the big sprinters in the peloton. This year he won Milano-Sanremo and his ability on undulating stages would seem to suggest he is a contender for the points jersey. However, he explained why he is not on many people's list of favourites for that.
"I have only finished the Tour de France once and I also have had a lot of problems at this time of year. Last year I was good until the last four stages. This year is different, in that I am bad at the beginning... we will see how things go."