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Freire fastest at Trofeo Cala Millor

At 32, Óscar Freire proved Monday he’s not done yet with victory in the Trofeo Cala Millor at the Mallorca Challenge in Spain.

After contemplating retirement following a lackluster 2009 season that saw just two minor wins, Freire bolted to victory in the second day of the five-day Mallorca Challenge. He fended off 20-race-winner André Greipel (HTC-Columbia) for the confidence-boosting win.

Third in Sunday’s opener behind winner Robbie McEwen (Katusha), Freire took the eighth victory of his career at the Mallorca Challenge, the traditional Spanish calendar season-opener. His last win came in 2007 at the Trofeo Mallorca.

“Almost every year that I’ve raced at Mallorca, I have won a race, and now it’s been two years since I’ve come,” said Freire. “To begin the season with a victory always gives you motivation. They always demand from me results of more quality, but a win like this gives you tranquility. I’ve achieved a win without being in top form, so I am happy.”

An early five-man breakaway opened up a gap of five minutes before Katusha, riding for McEwen, opened up the chase on the mostly flat 172km route along the eastern side of Mallorca.

It was all set up for the sprint in the closing kilometers when the big hitters come through, with Freire nipping Tour Down Under champ Greipel for the win. Coming across third was Portuguese champ Manuel Cardoso, who gave Footon-Servetto an important podium spot.

“Rabobank launched the finish with five riders and I felt I was losing my winning position and tried to overtake them with 300 meters to go, but Freire finished it off well, and beat me by a half-tire length at the line,” Cardoso said. “The podium is another boost for my confidence. I did my best against a big rider like Freire, and I’m happy with myself and the team. We were at the front and taking pulls with the top teams.”

The 19th Mallorca Challenge continues Tuesday with the 157km mountainous route that includes climbs over the Cat. 2 Sóller climb and the island’s highest paved climb at the Cat. 1 Puigmajor.

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