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Oscar Freire: The rise of a legend at the 1999 World Championships - Podcast

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Oscar Friere showing off the jersey he wore at Lombardia a week after winning the 1999 World Championships

Oscar Friere showing off the jersey he wore at Lombardia a week after winning the 1999 World Championships
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Oscar Freire lifts up the jersey he wore at the Worlds in 1999. The back is covered in the glue used to stick on his race numbers

Oscar Freire lifts up the jersey he wore at the Worlds in 1999. The back is covered in the glue used to stick on his race numbers
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Oscar Freire shows off artwork around his house. In this piece the shadows on the left represent his family. You can also see the rainbow stripes, while above the pink section is the hotel he and the Spanish team stayed at. To the right of that is the final corner where Freire attacked in Verona.

Oscar Freire shows off artwork around his house. In this piece the shadows on the left represent his family. You can also see the rainbow stripes, while above the pink section is the hotel he and the Spanish team stayed at. To the right of that is the final corner where Freire attacked in Verona.
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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The first jersey Freire wore at the age of nine

The first jersey Freire wore at the age of nine
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Another classy number from the Freire collection

Another classy number from the Freire collection
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Oscar Freire shows off his complete collection of jerseys that span several decades

Oscar Freire shows off his complete collection of jerseys that span several decades
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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When you've won as many races as Óscar Freire you're going to have a lot of jersey

When you've won as many races as Óscar Freire you're going to have a lot of jersey
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Óscar Freire's loyal and incredibly friendly dog Dora

Óscar Freire's loyal and incredibly friendly dog Dora
(Image credit: Daniel Benson)

1999 had its highs and lows. For every No Scrubs by TLC there was a Mambo Number 5 or virtually anything from the Backstreet Boys’ back catalogue. Bluetooth came about, we all played Snake on our Nokia 3210s, and a Texan shocked the world by winning the Tour de France. Whatever happened to him?

But when it came to professional cycling, maybe the most enticing thing about the sport was just how inaccessible it was. If you wanted to keep up with European racing, your options were either the four lines of text posted on Ceefax, loading up Cyclingnews on your parents’ dodgy 56k modem, or waiting a week for your favourite cycling magazine to hit the shelves.

However you managed to follow cycling back then, the fact that you had work for it only added to the romance. And the final UCI World Championships of the 1990s were arguably the most romantic and beautiful of the entire decade. The setting was perfect, the line-up stellar, even the race-winning break was filled with a mouthwatering array of talent. And, to top it all, we had a shock winner.

This is the story of Oscar Freire’s 1999 Worlds win and how a complete unknown stormed to victory in one of the biggest upsets the sport had ever seen.

Join us as we re-tell the race on its 20th anniversary, and head to meet with Freire at his home in Northern Spain.

This issue of the Cyclingnews podcast was brought to you by Sportful, Pinarello, Floyds of Leadville, and Wattbike.

To subscribe to the Cyclignews podcast, click here.

A special thanks to everyone who was interviewed: Oscar Freire, Hugo Coorevits, Servais Knaven, Rolf Aldag, Scott Moninger, Sven Montgomery, Dirk Demol and Dimitri Konyshev.

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