By Andrew Hood
Three-time world champion Oscar Freire said he is unsure he will be able to take Saturday’s start of the Vuelta a España as he continues to suffer the dizzy spells that forced his departure from the Tour de France.
The Rabobank sprinter won the Vattenfall Cyclassics in late July, but was forced to skip the Clásica San Sebastián as the problem worsened. He’s been taking medication, but is worried he won’t be stable enough to race the vertiginous Vuelta.
“I don’t know if I can start. My head hurts and I suffer dizziness. I am training and I will decide in the next few days, according to how things turn out,” Freire told the Spanish sports daily AS.
“I really need to race the Vuelta to get into shape for the world’s,” he continued. “I know the best sprinters will be at the Vuelta, but that doesn’t worry me. My only goal is to try to recover my health and form ahead of the world’s. I don’t want to pay for the tiredness in the world’s.”
Freire also expressed his disappointment that his regional government of Cantabria didn’t want to increase its sponsorship of Saunier Duval-Prodir to clear the way for his arrival to the Spanish team.
Freire was poised to sign a deal with Saunier Duval, based in the same region of northern Spain, but the government didn’t want to spend more money to underwrite Freire’s contract. Instead, Freire has signed a two-year extension with Rabobank.
“The Cantabrian government didn’t bet on me and lost the opportunity. It was a big disappointment for me that the local politicians, who are always ready to stand in the photo after a big success, when the time came to stand up and support me economically, they didn’t respond,” Freire said. “It wasn’t a lot of money to put up, double the amount that they already give the team.”
Buenahora DQ’d in Colombia
The two-week Vuelta a Colombia was thrown into chaos Sunday ahead of its final stage when race leader Hernán Buenahora (Zulia-Alcadía de Cabimas) and two others weren’t allowed to start the finale because of high hematocrit readings.
His teammate José Castelblanco became the overall victor after Buenahora showed high levels of hematocrit in pre-stage health screenings. He was given a 15-day forced rest and kicked out of the race along with Freddy González and Israel Ochoa.
Castelblanco, who lost his 2004 title after failing an anti-doping test, thus wins South America’s biggest stage race for the fourth time, adding to his victories in 1997, 1998 and 2002.
Buenahora bounced ahead of Castelblanco after winning Saturday’s climbing time trial to take the overall lead going into Sunday’s 108km sprint finish, won by Juan Pablo Forero into Medellín.
Last year, Buenahora lost the overall victory on the final day when he punctured in the final stage.
Race officials said they were not sure if urine samples would also be tested. High hematocrit tests indicate but do not prove illegal doping practices.
Dominguez tossed from Benelux tour
Spanish rider Juan Carlos Dominguez (Unibet) was thrown off the Eneco Tour of Benelux Monday after failing a blood test, organizers reported.
Dominguez was one of 38 competitors tested at dawn by the UCI before the start of the fifth stage in Hasselt, Belgium.
The ProTour event is staged in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Dominguez’s sample indicated an illegally high level of red blood cells, which suggests but is not proof of the use of the banned performance enhancer EPO.
The legal level for cyclists is set at 50 percent.
McGee eyes comeback, Moncoutie out
Australian Brad McGee (Française des Jeux), out of competition since abandoning the Tour de Suisse with an inflamed sciatic nerve, will return to competition Sunday with a French race. He will not start the Vuelta a España, where he wore the race leader’s jersey early in the first week last year.
In other French news, Cofidis confirmed that David Moncoutie, suffering from tendonitis in his right knee, will start the Vuelta. He will be replaced by Herve Duclos-Lasalle.