Double or quits for Oscar Freire at the World championships

Three-time World champion Oscar Freire of Spain is just hours away from what could be his last ever professional bike race, and it is appropriate that he should ride his final World championships at Valkenburg, where he rode his first World’s way back in 1998.

“I wasn’t under any pressure, though, I was young and I didn’t care about anything. There were ten of us Spanish, a bigger team than you have now. But I’d taken silver in the World Amateur Championships the year before (in San Sebastian) - I think that could have been a better result if I hadn’t punctured - and I knew then that World championships was going to be my thing.”

A series of real near-misses (and two wins this year), including fourth in the Amstel Gold Race, just a stone’s throw away from the finish on Sunday, fourth in Ghent-Wevelgem, third in the recent Paris-Brussels, seventh in Milan-San Remo and twelfth in Flanders, are results any rider would be proud of.

Winning comes down to small details

Freire says that the course itself “is one of the best for me in the last few Worlds. However, we don’t race with the same mentality that we did when I won the Worlds” - as he did in 1999, 2001 and 2004. I was the sole leader and all that matters a lot. Now there are more leaders (in the Spanish team) and the difference between winning and not winning comes down to small details which can matter a lot in a race, little errors that can make all the difference.”

Freire, has won seven Tour stage, a Tour points jersey, Milan-San Remo three times as well as wins in the Hew Cyclassics, Ghent-Wevelgem, Fleche Brabanconne and seven stages at the Vuelta a España.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.