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Oscar Freire (Rabobank) in Southern California, where he can speak his native Spanish everywhere.
Three-time world champ confident in road race sprint finish
Rabobank's Oscar Freire is amongst those fast men who could be contesting a sprint finish next Sunday at the UCI World Championship road race in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Spaniard, who could be winning his fourth rainbow jersey, is confident the race will come down to a sprint, but is anxious that the Northern European weather could make life difficult for the Spanish contingent.
"I took part in the Tour of Denmark this year to check out the road race course," Freire told DHnet. "I saw that it was easy. There's only one climb, and that the finishing straight. So it could be a sprint finish."
After 260 kilometres, only the strongest sprinters will stand a chance of victory, and as usual the weather conditions will also have an impact on the outcome. Freire admitted that he "would have preferred a harder route, but I'll adapt. I'm just fearful of the weather. In Spain, it's still very warm, but if it's cold in Denmark, then it could get really difficult. Apparently, if the weather gets bad in Denmark, then it gets really cold! That won't be ideal for us Spaniards, especially as it's a very long race."
At the moment, the local forecast for this weekend predicts sunny skies with only a few scattered clouds, but maximum temperatures of 16°C. The race should thus take place in rather chilly but dry conditions, as the risk of rain is estimated at only 20 percent.
In terms of competitiveness, Freire was "confident" in his capacities, even if he finished the Vuelta a España after only one week of racing. Since then, he 35-year-old has reaced only the GP de Wallonie, won by Philippe Gilbert, where he finished seventh. "To have the rainbow jersey another year would really be very beautiful," Freire said of chances for victory. "I'm not going to say it's a dream, but I am very motivated for this perspective."
Nevertheless, the Spaniard cited other riders as his favourites for the course - notably Thor Hushovd, but also Gilbert, who scored an incredible 18 wins this season. "The finish looks perfect for Hushovd. But don't forget that even on a course like this one, Gilbert can be very dangerous. Philippe is quite simply the best in the world, and we should all be afraid of him," Freire added.
The Spaniard has put his future plans as a rider on hold during the Worlds event, but hinted that he may continue to race even if he doesn't win the precious jersey. "I think I will still be a rider [next year]. But I don't know in which team yet," commented the Rabobank rider, who has also been linked to Movistar recently.