Freire searches for technical sprint finish

Cavendish's Columbia train too much for Freire

Oscar Freire needs a technical finale to overcome Mark Cavendish's team and to win his first stage win in the 2009 Tour de France. He finished fourth in Saint-Fargeau today behind Cavendish, who won his fourth stage of this year's race.

"It is almost impossible to do a really good sprint when you start nearly 20 metres behind the front riders. It was the perfect finish line for me, but I was in a bad position," Spain's Freire told Cyclingnews.

Team Columbia-HTC made sure to keep its leader Cavendish near the front of the group. It led the race and forced others to follow behind for the final 10 kilometres. Cavendish finished the work of his team on the slight uphill finish with a win. Tyler Farrar finished second, Yauheni Hutarovich third and Freire fourth.

"I am on good form, but now there is a really good team that makes the difference," said Freire. "When you find a team like Columbia with Cavendish it is almost impossible."

Freire has won four Tour de France stages and the green sprinters jersey in last year's race. He is also the winner of three world championships.

Cavendish is the faster finish of the two, but Freire excels when there are many curves and a slight ascent in the finish. After the race climbed the 2115-metre Tourmalet Sunday, Freire finished first in the group sprint seconds behind a two-man escape. Tomorrow's stage to Vittel and Saturday's stage to Besançon are both difficult finishes and may be his last chances in this year's race.

"If there is a very difficult stage then maybe I can win a stage. I think tomorrow's stage could be a little bit harder on the other sprinters."

Freire's last Tour de France stage was one year ago in Gap. He won his first stage in 2002 when he raced for Mapei. He won two stages in 2006 with his current team, Rabobank.

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