Oscar Freire has confirmed that he will compete for another season, apparently with his sights set on the road race title at the 2012 London Olympics.
Freire had previously indicated that he might retire at the end of this season, but has told Spanish newspaper El Diario Montañés that he is in negotiations with Rabobank and admitted that other teams are also interested in signing him on a one-year deal. On Thursday the team confirmed it has signed Australia’s Mark Renshaw for 2012 and2013.
Freire, who is represented by his brother, Antonio, revealed: “We are negotiating with Rabobank to renew for next year, but there is still nothing sorted. Moreover, if things do not work out with Rabobank there is the possibility that I will sign with another team. We already have some options, so if I don’t ride for Rabobank I will do for someone else.”
The 35-year-old Spaniard suggested that the negotiations would be completed before the start of the Vuelta on August 20. Freire will be one of Rabobank’s leaders in Spanish grand tour, and admitted that he is hoping to finish the race for the first time in eight appearances.
He said he has recovered well from the sinus operation he underwent in June and believes that his condition is better than it has been for some time, largely as a result of the procedure.
“I’ve recuperated well and I’m raring to go,” said Freire. “Last year they operated on me [to resolve the sinus problem] after the Tour and I wasn’t at my best at the Vuelta and Worlds, but this time I’m completely recovered with both the Vuelta and the Worlds in mind.”
Fresh for the Vuelta
The three-time world champion who has won a total of seven Vuelta stages during his long career believes that missing this year’s Tour should play to his advantage at the Vuelta, where he will be looking for stage wins.
“I am fresher than the other sprinters as a lot of them have done the Tour. A lot of the stages suit me well too. There are a fair few medium mountain stages that could end in a sprint.”
He picked out the stages into Córdoba and Noja as two that particularly suit him.
“I really like the one into Noja. Although the climbs are a long way from the finish, it could be a good stage for me because I know the roads really well and I also know those climbs,” said Freire.
He also likes the look of the Rabobank line-up that includes three other Spaniards: Luis León Sánchez, Juan Manuel Gárate and Carlos Barredo. Freire is also looking to Matti Breschel to support him in the sprints.
“Luis León and Barredo have enough class to win themselves but when they see that they don’t have the opportunity to do so they are the first to put themselves to work for them team and I know they will do that for me,” said Freire.
He added that his plan is to finish the Vuelta for the first time in his career. “If all goes well, finishing the Vuelta will be part of my preparations for the Copenhagen Worlds,” he said.
Freire will spend the final week before the start of the Vuelta fine-tuning his preparation at his holiday home in Denia, southern Spain.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).