Oscar Freire and his Rabobank team are currently elaborating the three-time world champion's 2011 racing programme. Speaking to Marca at the team's presentation on Wednesday this week, the Spaniard outlined his plans for the upcoming season, which will see him peak for a first time on March 19 at Milano-San Remo.
"My first objective will be the Italian Classicissima," said Freire, who won the event for the third time in 2010 and therefore plans to repeat this year's build-up to the race. The management of his Dutch squad wanted him to start the season at the Tour Down Under in Australia, but Freire convinced them that it was not a good idea to change a preparation that saw him victorious in San Remo once again.
"In 2010 I was very pleased with my programme until Milano-San Remo, and I want to repeat it as much as possible," he said. "To go to Australia wasn't the best option, because it would have changed my early season schedule completely."
Instead, Freire will start out with the Mallorca Challenge, followed by the Vuelta a Andalucía, another one-day race such as Almería or Kuurne-Bruselas-Kuurne, and finally Tirreno-Adratico to bring him up to San Remo. "After that, I will race Gent-Wevelgem, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Ardennes Classics Amstel, Flèche and Liège."
The Spaniard also excluded the Giro d'Italia from his schedule, even though the Rabobank team wanted him to participate. But the month of May is the worst for Freire with regard to his allergies and sinusitus problems, "and the Giro is very hard this year, it has almost not opportunities for sprinters," according to the triple world champion. "I will ride the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of California after the April Classics.
The season highlight, the Tour de France, will probably also take place without the Spaniard, although a final decision will not be made until May or June. But Rabobank's plans are to give full support to Robert Gesink in view of the Tour's final podium, which may see Freire skip the French Grand Tour altogether.
"If I don't ride it, then I will certainly spare my forces for the second half of the season with the Vuelta and the Worlds. That's certainly what I'll do."
The 2011 World Championships in Cophagen could be tailor-made for the 34-year-old, who has plenty of experience delivering his best performances when a rainbow jersey is at stake. Winning a fourth title could also be a further incentive to continue his career in 2012. "Everything will depend on how the year pans out for me and the pleasure I take in racing. But after all the problems I had this year with sinusitis, I feel confident again." At the end of the season, Freire was the first Spaniard to add Paris-Tours to his palmarès.