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Freire free to lead Spanish team

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) (Image credit: Unipublic)

Three-time world champion Oscar Freire will head up Spain's squad for the upcoming World Championship in Varese, Italy, the national coach Francisco 'Paco' Antequera announced Thursday. Following the withdrawal of Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, Spain will be represented by a versatile nine-man squad, which includes Ezequiel Mosquera ( Xacobeo-Galicia), currently fourth overall in the Vuelta a España as well as that race's overall leader Alberto Contador (Astana).

The team will also have a strong Caisse d'Epargne contingent with Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez and Luis Leon Sanchez. Benjamin Noval (Astana), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step) will also take part in the road race, while Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Ruben Plaza (Benfica) will contest the time trial.

Antequera said that Contador will take the role of Sastre on the team, but is not expected to contend for the rainbow bands. "Alberto is a rider that can be very important in this regard, especially when they pass the 200 kilometre race, but he knows that his mission will be to work," he told EFE.

Antequera tipped Valverde and Sanchez, the Olympic champion, as riders who will mark the breakaways in the final part of the race.

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