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Freire set for MSR

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) (Image credit: Sirotti)

After winning the 40th edition of Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday, Rabobank's Oscar Freire will be one of the big favourites for this Saturday's Milan-San Remo, the first 'monument' of the season. Freire won three stages in a row in Tirreno-Adriatico, and didn't even need to contest the final sprint in San Benedetto Del Tronto to secure the overall victory.

Rabobank's team director Erik Breukink admitted that Freire will be one of the top favourites come Saturday, "But don't count Petacchi out. He is riding better than ever on the climbs."

Freire himself received the ProTour leader's jersey while on the podium, having garnered 53 ProTour points over the last week (50 for the overall win, 3 for his stage wins). But he remained realistic about his abilities. "This doesn't mean that I am now a tour rider," he said. "On the podium I was surrounded by sprinters Petacchi and Hondo [who was later moved down to 4th - Ed.]. I won this tour thanks to bonus seconds. In other stages, there is always a first category climb or a time trial. Then I don't have a chance. My goals of the one day races remain unchanged."

Freire said that he will be relying on a traditional finish to Milan-San Remo, where the sprinters who get over the Poggio survive to fight it out on Via Roma. "There's no point in me attacking on the Poggio. Say that someone bridges the gap to me. They won't ride with me to the Via Roma. I have to wait for the sprint and hope that the race is hard enough that the other sprinters are dropped.

"Actually there's no one theory that works for Milan-San Remo. You have to save as much power as possible for the final kilometre. In the lead up to the Cipressa and Poggio you have to stay in front and not go in the breaks. Then it's a matter of staying in the first twenty over the Poggio. For the sprint, you have to have a good position in the last two corners. That's where the race is decided."

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