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Freire bets on Valverde

By Antonio J. Salmerón

For the second consecutive year, Oscar Freire will lose his chance for the World Championship. The three-time World Champion said to Marca, "I have stopped riding for almost two weeks, doing nothing, but I have not improved. At the outset I improved a little, but the problems have returned again. Freire began suffering from cervical vertebrae problems during this year's Tour de France. "I really feel helpless, and I'll certainly be frustrated on race day." Freire tips his compatriot Alejandro Valverde for the win: "It would be no surprise if Valverde wins. He is the Pro Tour leader, and has finished second in the Vuelta, but, in addition, he took Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year. He is capable of a World Championship. In fact, Valverde has already been second in twice, although Bettini, Vinokourov and Di Luca are strong rivals. I would not discount Boonen, either."