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Freire's Milan-San Remo hopes dashed by crash

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Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Oscar Freire (Rabobank) tries to fix his damaged bicycle following his crash.

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) tries to fix his damaged bicycle following his crash.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Riders make their way around Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who crashed on the descent of Le Manie.

Riders make their way around Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who crashed on the descent of Le Manie.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Defending champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) crashed on the descent of Le Manie.

Defending champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) crashed on the descent of Le Manie.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Oscar Freire is assisted by his Rabobank teammates following his crash on the descent of Le Manie.

Oscar Freire is assisted by his Rabobank teammates following his crash on the descent of Le Manie.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Crashes before and after the Manie climb wrecked the chances of several Milan-San Remo favourites, including three-time winner Oscar Freire. The Spaniard hit the ground hard in the descent of the climb. He finished the race in the main peloton but was 5:23 behind winner Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad).

"I was riding in front, within the first ten riders, as I knew that the road was dangerous due to the rain," the Rabobank leader told Marca after the race. "I got up again quickly, but I couldn't continue as my chain was off and my rear wheel was broken. There was also a problem with the heel of my shoe..."

Freire changed bike and shoes, but as he reached the end of the descent he was 2:40 minutes to the leaders. "I raced well, but I wasn't lucky," he added. "There was a bend to the right, a hairpin so we took it very slow, but my bike just slid away and I fell down. Others crashed before that, some afterwards. I crashed when I least expected it."

It was the first time that Freire has crashed in ten rides at Milan-San Remo. 94th was also his worst-ever result. His three victories came in 2004, 2007 and 2010.

Freire will now turn his attention to the Spring Classics, hoping for better luck. "At least I know my form is good," he said. He is also hoping that the light pain he was feeling in his knee would not be holding him back. "As I had to change shoes, I felt it. But I hope it's nothing serious, as I'll be racing Gent-Wevelgem next Sunday."

The Spaniard will then continue his race program with the Vuelta al País Vasco, the Flèche Brabançonne, the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After that, he will travel to the USA for the Tour of California.

The three-time World Champion will not participate in the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France this year, focusing instead on the Vuelta a Espana as a build-up for the Worlds in Copenhagen.