Oscar Freire wants to leave cycling through the puerta grande, but he’s just not sure when.
The three-time world champion has already hinted that the 2011 season could well be his last, but he might extend his career by one more year if things go spectacularly well for him this year with Rabobank.
Speaking during Wednesday’s team presentation in Holland, Freire said his top goals in 2011 will be winning another Milan-San Remo and take one more stab at the elusive fourth world title.
“Everything depends on how things go for me this season and the motivation is still there to race,” Freire told the Spanish daily Marca. “It looks like Rabobank wants to try to win the Tour with (Robert) Gesink, so we’ll see if I race or not. If I don’t, I will surely do the Vuelta and the world championships.”
Freire said he and Rabobank brass have ironed out his schedule, and despite pressure from the team to race the Tour Down Under and the Giro d’Italia, the Spaniard said he will stick to what worked well for him this season and focus on an early season peak at San Remo.
Freire will debut at the Mallorca Challenge in February, followed by the Ruta del Sol and perhaps Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne before Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Milan-San Remo, which he won for the third time in 2010. After that, he’ll race Ghent-Wevelgem, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Ardennes classics.
“(Last year), the program went very well until Milan-San Remo and I’d like to repeat that, because my first big objective will the ‘classicissima.’ Going to Australia was not the best option because it would totally change the beginning of the season,” Freire said. “What’s most likely is that after the spring classics I will do the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of California. The Giro is too hard and there are hardly any stages for the sprinters.”
Freire, who turns 35 in February, struggled with sinus problems throughout the 2010 season. He underwent nose surgery in late July and expressed frustration for his inability to challenge Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France.
A record fourth world title remains in the offing for Freire, especially with a course in Denmark that suits his style of racing. The chance to make history will keep him motivated through at least the end of this season.