By Andrew Hood
It seems either Oscar Freire is winning races or facing some career-threatening health problem. There’s no in between for the three-time world champion who seems snake-bit when it comes to debilitating pain.
The Rabobank sprinter – fresh off winning two stages at the Tour de France and the Vattenfall Cyclassics race in Hamburg – will miss Saturday’s Clásica San Sebastián due to strange headaches and dizzy spells that have been dogging him since the Tour.
For a rider who’s suffered through back problems and infected saddle sore that kept him out of last year’s world championships, it’s just the latest in health complications that keep derailing the Spanish sprinter just when he seems to be hitting his stride.
“Ever since I’ve abandoned the Tour I haven’t felt very well at all. I have dizzy spells and I have headaches,” Freire told the Diario Vasco. “I went to the doctor and initially they told me it might be vertigo. Later they told me it could a cervical syndrome. The problem is that I have to ride with care when I am on the bike to not crash and give myself a breakdown.”
Freire said he first felt the symptoms during the mountain stages at the Tour, but refused to abandon. When he eventually did pull out after stage 17, he said it was already too late and that the problems became worse.
It didn’t stop him from winning the Vattenfall Cyclassics race in Hamburg on July 30.
“It’s a race that adapted perfectly to my conditions,” he said. “If you have the strength, you stay ahead and take advantage of the form I had after leaving France. That served me well.”
The 30-year-old said he still expects to be able to start the Vuelta a España (Aug. 26) and make a run at a fourth world title in Salzburg in September. Complications from surgery to remove a cyst on his hip forced him to miss last year’s world’s race in Madrid.
“There are still enough days before the Vuelta and hopefully all this will be solved by then. The world’s? There’s even more time, even though it wouldn’t be a good thing if this thing hangs around.