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Oscar Freire to debut with Katusha at 2012 Tour Down Under

2011 Amgen Tour of California, stage 5, Casey B. Gibson gallery
World champion Oscar Freire on the attack in stage 5 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California. Photo: Casey B. Gibson (file)

Three-time world champion Oscar Freire will make his debut with Russian squad Katusha in Australia’s Tour Down Under in January, organizers said on Wednesday.

Freire moves to Katusha after nine seasons with Rabobank, which passed on a chance to extend with the Spanish star, instead signing a deal with Mark Renshaw to take over as lead sprinter for 2012.

The 35-year-old Freire said this is likely his final season as a pro. He has targeted the London Olympic Games and the world championships in Holland as his major goals for the year.

TDU race director Mike Turtur said he was excited that Freire would be taking part in the January 15-22 race around the Adelaide area.

“Spaniard Oscar Freire has accomplished what only legends like Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx and Rik Van Steenbergen have been able to do: win three road race world championships,” Turtur said. Freire won in 1999, 2001 and 2004.

Katusha for 2012 Tour Down Under: Maxim Belkov (RUS), Giampaolo Caruso (ITA), Xavier Florencio (ESP), Oscar Freire (ESP), Luca Paolini (ITA), Gatis Smukulis (LAT) and Eduard Vorganov (RUS)

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