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Freire postpones retirement until 2012 Olympics, likely no Tour de France next season

Óscar Freire, the three time world champion, wants another shot at the Olympic gold medal and has decided to postpone retirement until the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Freire told reporters at an honorary dinner for him in his hometown of Torrelavega in northern Spain that if he can get through the 2011 season without any major injuries or setbacks, he’d make another run for gold.

“I would continue racing at least through the Olympic Games of London in 2012,” Freire was quoted by the Spanish wire service EFE. “If I am not involved in any major crashes or suffer any injuries, I would probably try to participate in what would be my fourth Olympic Games. It’s a special race, totally different than any other. ”

Freire had hinted that the 2011 season was going to be his last, but the off-season seems to have mellowed his sentiments about retiring next year.

Despite some suggestion that Freire had a poor season last year mainly due to his lack of stage victories during the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, he scored two huge wins to book-end his 13th professional season.

In March he won his third Milan-San Remo, and followed that up with two stage wins during the Tour of the Basque Country, and then closed the season with a trip to the top spot on the podium at Paris-Tours in October.

Those victories give him motivation going into what will be his ninth season with the Dutch-backed Rabobank, which sees the arrival of compatriots Luís León Sánchez and Carlos Barredo.

“I achieved two important victories in different classics and, even more important, I ended the season with motivation to keep going,” Freire said. “I admit when things weren’t going well this season, I was ready to retire at 100 perecent.”

Freire will debut at the Mallorca Challenge in early February and then race the Ruta del Sol, which he won in 2007. Milan-San Remo and a strong performance during the northern classics are also important goals for Freire in 2011.

Freire also admitted he likely won’t go to the Tour de France next year, in large part to prepare intensively for the world championships in Denmark, which will be held on a course favorable to his characteristics.

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