The buzz at the Vuelta a España was who was on form to win the world championships. Philippe Gilbert, Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar all roared out of the Spanish tour strong and confident, racking up seven wins between them.
And what about three-time world champion Oscar Freire? He pulled out early with barely popping for a top-10 in the sprint stages. As one pro put it, “With Freire, you never know. He can be awful, then he pop up and win it all.”
Freire is sounding confident after seeing the world’s course first-hand. The squad arrived in Australia over the weekend and rode the course for a second time Sunday, with Freire coming away feeling optimistic for his chances of winning a record fourth world crown.
“The finish is good for me,” Freire said after the inspection. “It’s important to arrive with fitness to this final. Every worlds has its hard part, and this is different from last year’s, in that the climbs, even though they’re the same incline, are shorter. So it’s going to be faster, with more possibilities to recovery, and less chances for a rider to get away alone, even though this will depend on the wind.”
Spanish teammate Juanma Gárate agreed, saying the finale is “ideal for Oscar.”
“There will be a headwind and it won’t be necessary to be at the front. You could come up from 30th place and have time to finish it off,” Gárate said. “We were all surprised that the course is more demanding than we expected, even though the second time we rode it, we had a better idea of what awaits us. The difference from the course last year is that there is more flats to have time to recover. The wind will also be decisive. If there’s a headwind, it will be impossible for anyone to get away alone, but if it’s a tailwind, it could be very dangerous.”