Cycling: Former world champ Freire vows to retire
Former world champion Oscar Freire said there will be no going back on his decision to end his illustrious career at the end of the season.other Updated: Jan 18, 2012 14:26 IST
Former world champion Oscar Freire said there will be no going back on his decision to end his illustrious career at the end of the season.
Spanish sprint specialist Freire is one of only a handful of riders to have won the world road race title three times.
And, with this year's world championships being held on a challenging hilly course in the Netherlands, the Spaniard has set his sights on success elsewhere.
In his 13th and final season, Freire is hoping to keep a younger, hungrier bunch of sprint rivals at bay in his favourite classic the Milan-SanRemo, before resuming his love affair with the Tour de France.
Just a week after the July showpiece Freire -- who helped Samuel Sanchez capture Olympic road race gold in Beijing four years ago -- hopes to be among the medal contenders at the sprinters' course at the London Games.
It's all a far cry from last year when Freire considered retirement for the umpteenth time, after Rabobank left him off their Tour de France squad and illness during the Tour of Spain dampened his late season ambitions.
Lured by Russian team Katusha for one final campaign in the pro peloton, a revived Freire hopes to make his farewell year one to remember.
"Last year wasn't particularly lucky for me. I didn't do the Tour de France and also I was sick in the Vuelta (Tour of Spain)," Freire told AFP.
"My physical condition was okay, but I just didn't get opportunities to show what I could do.
"This is my final year. I hope to be a little bit better, and a bit more lucky."
Despite his loyalty to Rabobank over seven success-laden years with the Dutch team, Freire was ditched from their Tour de France squad as they focused on Robert Gesink's ultimately disastrous yellow jersey campaign.
Freire is now eyeing a return to the world's biggest race in July, where he will come up against a formidable field, including 20-time stage winner Mark Cavendish.
Before then, Milan-SanRemo -- the first major classic of the season and a race he has won three times -- is Freire's main objective in late March.
"Milan-SanRemo is the priority, but I also hope to do well at Tirreno-Adriatico before then and I'll also be doing (Italian race) Eroica for the first time."
Having suffered throughout his career from injury and sinus problems which required surgery, Freire says that this year there will be no reversal of his decision to retire.
"Every year it's getting more difficult. But two years ago, for example, I had a really good season, I won Milan-SanRemo and Paris-Tours -- the most important sprints of the year.
"I hope to have similar success this year. After that, it will be over. I don't know whether I will stay in cycling but let's say I will have plenty of time to consider my options."
First Published: Jan 18, 2012 14:25 IST