Oscar Freire: A man without a country

Spaniard Oscar Freire is a conundrum. He's accomplished what only legends like Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx and Rik Van Steenbergen have been able to do: win three World Road Race Championships (1999, 2001, 2004). Add a couple of wins in Milano-Sanremo, fistfuls of Grand Tour stages and a slew of other impressive results, and by all accounts he should be a huge celebrity in Spain. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez finds out why the Rabobank rider considers himself "a man without a country."

Oscar Freire hails from a land celebrated for producing exceptional cyclists: diminutive Basque mountain goats, the massively powerful Miguel Indurain, the graceful Abraham Olano but his country is not generally known for riders who excel in the one-day races. In fact, Freire's punchy sprint and affection for the Classics is so undervalued in his native Spain that after beginning his career on the Vitalicio Seguros squad in 1998, the rider from Torrelevaga has always ridden on foreign teams: Mapei from 2000-2002 and Rabobank ever since.

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