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Freire ready to take on Cavendish and Farrar in Vuelta sprints

Spain’s Oscar Freire is still recovering from a sinus operation but with the world championships just over a month away, the three-time rainbow jersey winner is looking to get back to his best while riding the Vuelta.

Freire won Milan-San Remo and has totalled six victories so far in 2010, but he struggled in the sprints at the Tour de France. He was suffering with a breathing problem and underwent surgery to have polyps removed from his nose and sinuses on the Tuesday after the Tour finished in Paris. Now he hopes he can re-find his best form during the Vuelta as he takes on Cavendish and Farrar in the sprints.

“I’m slowly improving but I was told after the operation I’d need two weeks to recover, but I think that is the time for people who don’t practice sport, because I’m still not quite right,” Freire told Spanish newspaper AS.

“I have clocked up six wins this season. I don’t know if I'm the most successful Spanish rider in terms of the number of victories but I did win my third Milan-San Remo. That’s not bad is it? And I’ve still got the Vuelta, Paris-Tours and the world championships.”

Most of the sprint stages at the Vuelta come early in this year’s race. Freire admits he will still be trying to find his legs and he doesn’t have a dedicated lead-out train like Cavendish and Farrar. However he still fancies his chances and can never be discounted in a sprint, especially after a hilly day in the saddle before the finish.

“The first week might be a bit soon for me to be up there. I haven’t trained in the heat and it makes it hard for me to breath. I will try to do something as the days go by and see me if my confidence improves. The problem is that there is nothing I can do about how the race route has been designed,” he said.

“I beat them (Cavendish and Farrar) when I didn’t have these breathing problems and we were on equal terms in the spring. They have a red carpet rolled out for them but that’s not a problem for me.”

“My goal is to get back to more or less my best form for Australia. Things can change from one second to another in cycling but I accept that and have always managed to handle it.”

Freire first test in a sprint against Vuelta leader Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Theo Bos and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) will be at the end of stage two to Marbella today.

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Stephen Farrand
Stephen Farrand

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.