COPENHAGEN (VN) — Óscar Freire says he won’t lose any sleep if he doesn’t win a record fourth world title this weekend in Copenhagen despite a course that favors the Spanish sprinter.
Freire, a winner of three rainbow jerseys since his first breakout win in 1999, told the Spanish daily El Correo that he’s already satisfied to have three world gold medals hanging on his mantlepiece.
“It won’t be a disaster if I do not manage to win a fourth title,” Freire told El Correo ahead of the elite men’s race Sunday “I’ve won three and that was already something unexpected. Whether or not I win another one won’t change my life that much.”
Only four riders have won three world titles, with Freire finding good company with Alfredo Binda (1927, ’30, ’32); Rik Van Steenberger (1949, ’56, ’57) and Eddy Merckx (1967, ’71, ’74).
Two of Freire’s wins came at Verona (1999 and 2004) and a third at Lisbon in 2001.
The Copenhagen circuit is ideal for his characteristics and Freire said he’s recovered from the saddle sore that was giving him troubles at the Vuelta a España.
“I arrive in good condition for the race. If it were a harder circuit, I could be in trouble,” he said. “I trained 200km the other day, and I felt good.”
“Gilbert will be marked. If the circuit were more difficult, he’d be the big favorite. The circuit makes for an open race. (The Belgians) will try to make it a hard race,” Freire said. “I don’t see (Cavendish) as a favorite. I think a big group will arrive in which three or four riders will arrive with possibilities to win. It will be difficult.”
Freire, 35, said he will race next season, but doesn’t know where.
“It’s confirmed that I will race one more season,” he said. “I cannot say yet where I will race. I would like to stay at Rabobank, but I just don’t know.”
Perhaps everyone’s waiting to see how Freire goes on Sunday. Making history with a fourth rainbow jersey would make his price tag go up considerably.