Sprint specialist Óscar Freire confirmed he is almost certain to bring the curtain down on his erratic but illustrious career at the end of 2011.
Freire, a three-time world champion, added another prestigious win to his list on Sunday when he became the first Spaniard to win Paris-Tours.
And after years of indecision about ending his career, the 34-year-old Rabobank finally seems to have made up his mind.
“When I was younger I thought I would be racing till I’m 40, but time goes by so fast,” said Freire, who has finished runner-up once and third twice in a race that has been tailor-made for sprint finishes.
“I’m still under contract with Rabobank through 2011, but let’s say I’m 90 percent sure to retire at the end of next year.”
Having threatened to retire in recent years Freire has shown once again that he still has plenty to offer the peloton.
He began this season with two stage wins in the Tour of the Basque Country, and then picked up his third victory in Milan-SanRemo, one of five cycling “monuments” in the one-day classic series.
After failing to win a stage in the Tour de France, Freire went into the world championships last week as one of the favorites, having won the rainbow jersey a record-equaling three times.
But Norwegian Thor Hushovd outclassed the Spaniard on the uphill finish line at Geelong, Australia.
“Every year I try to peak for the world championships and this year it was the same, but last week nothing went right for our team,” Freire said. “I used up a lot of energy during the race, and I lost concentration.
“I missed a good opportunity, but that’s sport. And Hushovd is a deserving champion.”
Freire’s career has been blighted with various injuries, from back problems to saddle sores and neck problems. And in 2009, he was one of several riders shot by an air rifle during stage 13 of the Tour.
This year it was sinus problems that hampered his early season.
“I think I’ve made some good results this year,” he said. “It’s been a good season despite the fact I suffered a lot from sinus problems after the Tour of the Basque Country.”