Freire out of Vuelta & world's

World champion Oscar Freire looks extremely unlikely to ride the Vuelta a España (August...

World champion Oscar Freire looks extremely unlikely to ride the Vuelta a España (August 27-September 18) and the world championships (Madrid, Spain, September 21-25) as he has only just been pronounced fit to ride again after an operation earlier this year. Freire was operated on in June to fix an injury to his saddle area that was making it all but impossible for his to sit on a bike, but the surgery has taken an unexpectedly long time to heal, leaving him unable to train in the meantime.

"If [Freire] sat on a saddle it felt like he was sitting on sharp stones," team manager Erik Breukink told the ANP news agency.

Freire was examined by doctors in Amstelveen yesterday and was pronounced sufficiently healed to be able to resume training. "But it is impossible for him to ride the Vuelta," said Breukink, who added that he did not think it would be possible for Freire to ride in enough races to be ready for the world championships.

Freire himself has also ruled out an appearance at the world's. "I'm still unable to train and it will be impossible for me to go to Madrid," he told Spanish sports newspaper AS. "I'm really annoyed to be missing out because it was a great opportunity for me. I'm sure a lot of people would have come to see me riding at home."

The Spaniard, who was expected to defend his third world championship on his home roads, explained that his injury problems are not yet over. "The wound has healed but the problem is with the bone," he said. "It is a very delicate area, with a lot of nerve connections and tendons. When I support the weight of my body on the saddle I get a lot of pain."

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