Triple world champion Oscar Freire was prominent on yesterday’s seventh stage of the Tour de Suisse, making it into the day’s break and then winning the sprint for second place. He played down that achievement a little this morning, saying that he has not yet hit top form.
“I think I am not so bad, but I am not in my best condition,” the affable Spaniard told Cyclingnews. “Yesterday it was very difficult to be in the front as I spent a lot of energy in the beginning to close the gaps. In the end, I think the strongest guy won the stage. I am happy because I got a good place, and also because we controlled the situation of the race.”
His Rabobank teammate Robert Gesink started the day as race leader and the Dutchman said afterwards that placing two riders in the break was one of their tactics to defend yellow.
“I think I did a good job yesterday. The objective now is not to win a stage, but to win the general classification. So we are trying everything for that.”
Freire said that he expected today’s penultimate stage to be a complicated one, and that attacks could go clear in the lumpy finale. The team will try to mark the other contenders and make sure that nobody is able to steal a march in advance of tomorrow’s time trial.
Freire has shown a return to form this season, winning Milan – San Remo and netting five other victories – double stage wins in both the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and Vuelta a Andalucia, and also the Trofeo Calla Millor in Majorca.
He has two races where he wants to perform strongly in. The first is the Tour de France, although the fact that the team will have other goals means that it can’t dedicate itself to him. “The Tour is different because we also have a good team for the general classification,” he said. “I will be alone, but will try to win a stage. The green jersey is so difficult [to target].
The second big target is the world championships. He’s won three rainbow jerseys during his career, thus equalling the record held by Eddy Merckx, Alfredo Binda and Rik Van Steenbergen. Asked by Cyclingnews today if that is his big goal for the season, he replied, ‘yes, for sure,’ with a smile. It's clear becoming the first-ever to win four titles is a major focus for him.