Oscar Freire is high on motivation as he builds towards 2012, his first season with Katusha, but the triple world champion has stated that it will be his final year as a professional. The Spaniard joins Katusha after spending nine seasons with Rabobank.
“I think it will be my last year,” Freire told Biciciclismo. “I had a lot of interest in riding in 2012 for a couple of reasons. 2011 was not such a good season because I didn’t have a lot of success or good fortune. And I know that I can still go to my best. I don’t have to show anything to anyone, that’s clear. This is more for me.”
Winner of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Tours in 2010, Freire’s final campaign with Rabobank proved more difficult, as he failed to land a classic and was left out of the Tour de France team as the Dutch squad built its July plans around Robert Gesink.
“Two years ago I had a good season. In 2011, I found I was equally good but things didn’t work out for whatever reason,” Freire said. “In San Remo I fell, I was ill at Gent-Wevelgem and then Gilbert left no chances in the Ardennes and they didn’t bring me to the Tour. And then at the Vuelta I was ill. It was a season in which I could do little, and when I did compete I came up against a very strong Gilbert and Cavendish.”
While Freire hopes to hit the ground running in 2012 and will begin his spring build-up at the Tour Down Under, the Spaniard already has one eye on twin objectives later in the season, the London 2012 Olympics and the world championships in Valkenburg.
“The Olympic circuit isn’t as easy as you think, it’s more complicated than it seems,” he said. “Like the Worlds, which is where I rode my first one as a professional in 1998. Even if this circuit is more difficult and more complicated, I still know those roads very well because a lot of the climbs are featured on the Amstel course.”
Although the Cauberg features in the finale, unlike at the Amstel Gold Race, the finish line is not at the summit. “If the finish was on the Cauberg itself, it would be more difficult, but with a mile more to go, you never know. You can always have options.”