Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has said that he has still not ruled out riding beyond 2011. The three-time world champion had previously hinted at hanging up his wheels at the end of next season but says that he may continue for an extra year. He also admitted that he is keen to follow his traditional racing programme in 2011 rather than lead Rabobank at the Giro d'Italia.
“In principle 2011 will be my last season, but depending on how I am, how I start the start the season and how I finish, I might do one more,” Freire told Marca. “Don’t rule anything out, because my level of performance this year was pretty good. If 2011 yields as much, I’d probably go on for another year.”
Freire took his third Milan-San Remo in 2010 and bookended his campaign by winning Paris-Tours, a victory he says compensated in part for his failure to take a record fourth rainbow jersey: “Although I didn’t win the world championships, the win in Paris-Tours has given me a lot of encouragement.”
The Spaniard is currently piecing together his racing schedule for the 2011 season and admitted that his preferred programme may not necessarily tally with that of his team. He is less than enthusiastic about the possibility of leading Rabobank at the Giro.
“I would like to follow the same calendar as other years: the classics, Tour, Vuelta and Worlds,” Freire explained. “But this year the team wants to build around Gesink for the Tour and are proposing the Giro for me. I’ve never ridden it and it seems especially hard in 2011. In addition, I’ve never done well in May.”
In the early part of the season, Freire is also keen to follow his tried and trusted build-up to the classics rather than travel to the Tour Down Under in Australia.
“The team wants to start in Australia, but to me it seems a bit risky because I finished this season late and I want to be good at Milan-San Remo, not before,” Freire said. “By racing at 40 degrees in Australia and reaching form early, you run the risk of catching a flu or cold when you return to Europe. I prefer the same programme as ever: Mallora, Andalucia and Tirreno before San Remo.”
Freire’s early season objectives will begin to be formalised when the Rabobank team gathers for the first time on Wednesday, but it is already certain that the second half of 2011 will see him working towards a familiar goal. The world championships course in Copenhagen offers the possibility of a sprint finish and the Spaniard will line up as one of the favourites in Denmark.
“I’ve seen the circuit on the internet and, in truth it’s a good course for me because it is difficult and I’m not bad after 250km,” he said. “But the stakes are very high and only one can win.”