Oscar Freire wanted to become the first pro cyclist to win four road world championship titles, but instead he made history by being the first Spaniard to win Paris-Tours. It was a bit of a consolation prize, but not exactly what he was hoping for in October. He will also remain the last winner on the Avenue of Grammont as tramway construction will force the finish to another venue in the future.
"Every year I've tried to win Paris-Tours," said Freire, who won in his eleventh attempt. "But I never had good luck until today. Sometimes the attacking riders arrived for the win, sometimes I tried with them but we never stayed away to the finish. This time I was at the front to watch what happened. I felt very good."
Freire was exceptional indeed, timing his sprint into the wind perfectly to claim the win over Lampre's Angelo Furlan. "With 200 metres to go, Robbie McEwen changed his direction and I had to brake, otherwise I would have crashed. I thought it was maybe over. Normally one mistake is too much in such a sprint but today I managed to go again." He impressed the other riders like Philippe Gilbert who witnessed the Spaniard revving back up to full speed again after nearly coming to a stop.
"I knew I had good condition to win the Worlds," Freire continued. "My adversaries surprised me in a moment that forced to the Spanish team to work a lot and it became a bad day for us. I was nervous in Geelong, I spent a lot of energy, I lost my concentration. But I knew today I had another chance. It's a different race but Paris-Tours is also an important race."
The victory followed a six-month drought for the Spaniard, who last won a race in April at the Tour of the Basque Country following his superb victory in Milan-San Remo. Freire missed the Giro d'Italia and then underwent an operation on his sinuses just after a disappointing Tour de France.
"I was not good in the middle of the season because of my sinus problems, but I started and finished the 2010 season with good results," Freire said.
Freire's season is not over as he'll ride the Tour of Lombardy as well. "It's not the best race for me but we never know," he said. He also revealed that 2011 might not be the last season of the career he started with Vitalicio Seguros back in 1998. He'll turn 35 in February next year. "Normally I'll stop at the end of 2011", he added. "There is a 90% chance I'll stop, but what if I win my fourth world title? And I might as well go for the rainbow jersey as a master in the above 40 year old category, who knows?"
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