Triple World Champion Oscar Freire will start his season in the Challenge Illes Balears, which opens in Palma de Mallorca on Sunday. But the Rabobank rider doesn't expect any early season successes, as he has been sick with a cold recently. "I've had problems training at the start of the season due to a cold," he was quoted by AS as saying. "I've always done well in the Mallorcan race, but on this occasion I will not be able to perform in this race like I did last year."
"I think that I'm going to participate in four of the five grandes premios of the 'challenge', but you have to see that for the bunch sprints, there are some very good riders on the start list, beginning with World Cup and Olympic champion Paolo Bettini."
Freire said that he will do the Vuelta a Andalucia and Trofeo Luis Puig after Mallorca, with his main aims this year to "win stages in the Tour and try to keep my jersey at the World Championships in Madrid."