Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has admitted that he was surprised by Mark Cavendish’s victory at the UCI World Championships road race in Copenhagen last week but he paid tribute to his ability to repeatedly finish off the work of his team. The Spaniard also called for the rules regarding riders who finish outside the time limit at the Tour de France to be revised.
“Mark is a great rider, who has surprised many times,” Freire told a webchat on Marca.com. “He surprised me by winning Milan-San Remo [in 2009 – ed.] and now by winning the Worlds. He has won a lot of races, especially at the Tour. He has a great team but he responds as well.”
The Spaniard noted that Cavendish is virtually impossible to stop when his teammates bring him to the final 200 metres of a race at the head of the peloton, but acknowledged that he is also capable of winning from further back.
“If they leave him with 200 metres to go, he is almost unbeatable,” Freire said. “You can only beat him when the conditions are equal, if he is left like the others. Even in that situation, he is still really good, but you can win.”
Freire was also asked about Cavendish’s march to the green jersey at the Tour de France, which saw the Manxman finish outside the time limit on consecutive days in the Alps, albeit as part of a large group. The size of the gruppetto meant that Cavendish and the other riders involved were not eliminated from the race, but were punished by being docked 20 points from their tallies in the points classification on each occasion. Freire believes that the rules need to be revisited.
“As for the green jersey, there are rules that say that when a lot of riders finish outside the time limit, they are allowed back in,” Freire noted. “Those are the rules, but it seems wrong to me that those outside the time limit are allowed back in. It’s sometimes happened that riders who finish hors delai win the following the day. If you’re sick or you fall, they don’t let you back in, but if you finish in a group, they do. It’s not good, I don’t understand it. They should change the rule.”
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Three times a world champion, Freire could only manage 9th this time around. He appeared well-placed entering the finishing straight but when the riders in front fell away, he had too much to do to make it to the line in front.
“I was left with just one rider in front of me a long way from the finish,” he said. “It was a pity, because I had a good position.”
Although Freire confirmed on the eve of the Worlds that he will continue in the peloton next season, he was coy about discussing his future. The Spaniard is understood to be considering a switch away from the Rabobank squad, but he downplayed rumours of a possible move to Movistar.
“I think it will be difficult to ride for Movistar. I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but not at Movistar because I haven’t had an offer from them,” he said.
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