Spaniard Oscar Freire is a man that can never be counted out of any one-day race, especially La Primavera, Milano-Sanremo (or Milan-San Remo). The 31 year-old Rabobank rider has always been in the mix in the race's finale on the Via Roma. He won in 2004 but that victory was backed by many important placings in the Italian dominated event; third in 2000, fifth in 2002, seventh in 2003, fifth in 2005 and sixth last year.
"I started my career by racing three years with Mapei and there were a lot of Italians on the team that always talked of Sanremo," said the likable rider to La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday. "This was one of the reasons I developed my love for the race. It is the Worlds of the spring. To define it in one word? 'Difficult.' But, 'La Classicissima,' like they call it in Italian, is a race I like a lot."
The three-time World Champion has his objectives for 2007; his main goal is to make history with a fourth rainbow jersey, but right below that is Sanremo, a Monument* that every sprinter dreams of but only few can capture.
"Winning the Worlds for the fourth time is my principle objective for 2007, but just below that is to get my second win in Sanremo." His words are spoken with confidence that was built in last month's Ruta del Sol, where he won two stages and the overall, which he captured on the final day.
"Everything that I needed to do I have done. What have I done in the last days? I took a break!" laughed Freire. "I have a good team; with me is Leon Van Bon, he is going strong and also is additional threat." Freire will also have the backing of one-day hard-men Max Van Heeswijk and Juan Antonio Flecha.
The complete Rabobank team for Sanremo is Jan Boven (Ned), Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa), Oscar Freire (Spa), Bram De Groot (Ned), Pedro Horrillo (Spa), Mathew Hayman (Aus), Leon Van Bon (Ned) and Max Van Heeswijk (Ned).
*The five Monuments of cycling are Milano-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia.