The good 2006 results notched up by Tom Boonen and Robbie McEwen so far means that they will be receiving most of the pre-race attention vis-à-vis the bunch sprints here in Switzerland, but another who could well be up there in big finishes is triple world champion Oscar Freire. He hasn't competed much of late but was in good form before the stage start, saying he was looking forward to the week.
"I am feeling very good but I haven't raced. So it impossible to know my condition now. After today I will know whether I will be good for the week or not."
The talented Spaniard duly placed third on the opening leg behind Tom Boonen and Daniele Bennati and with a little sharpening of form, could get a win in Switzerland.
Freire missed much of last year due to a big cyst in the saddle area but with that successfully treated, he's set some big goals for 2006. Should he take the rainbow jersey again, he would be the pro rider with the most such victories in the history of the sport. "I am targeting the Tour de France, then the remaining Classics and the World Championships. My biggest goal is in September, though." [The Worlds – ed]
When asked if he would be looking at stages or the maillot vert in the Tour, Freire gave a logical answer. "Maybe both! If you can win stages there, then you can win the Green Jersey too. But the problem is to start winning… That's the first priority."