Oscar Freire of Rabobank will be unable to ride the Giro d'Italia due to sinusitis. The three-time World champion and three-time Milano-San Remo winner will be replaced by first-year pro Steven Kruijswijk.
Freire has suffered from respiratory problems for several weeks, and has undergone multiple medical examinations this week. The decision was finally made Thursday morning to hold him out of the Giro, which opens on Saturday in Amsterdam.
It is the second major loss for the team this week. It was earlier announced that road captain Koos Moerenhout would not be able to participate, as he is still recovering from a respiratory illness.
Directeur Sportif Nico Verhoeven said that “A good Oscar in your team is almost the guarantee of at least one stage win, and Koos Moerenhout's presence would have been of great importance for this young team.”
Verhoeven added that there was no possibility of either rider participating. For Freire, “it would be very difficult for him to get through the first day without dragging. There is little chance that he would even make it to Italy.” It was not worth risking having to ride one man down after only three days.
The sprinter's role will now fall to Australian Graeme Brown. “The loss of a great man for the flat stages opens perspectives for other riders,” Verhoeven noted. “The opportunities Graeme will have will be less than those for Oscar. But in the flat stages we now must make a virtue of necessity.”