For ex-world champion Oscar Freire, the new year brings new challenges. A new
team, having to learn a new language, and lots of expectations. After his first
meeting with his team in Javea, where Rabobank is conducting their first
training camp, the Spaniard spoke with Chema Bermejo of AS.
For you it's true, a new year, a new life, right?
Oscar Freire: Well, yes. I arrive at a Dutch team where there are no
Spaniards or Italians. I will have to learn English and to mould myself to new
working methods. But you get used to everything.
Is it going to be better than at Mapei?
O.F: I think I have selected the best possible team. At Mapei we won
lots of races because there were great riders, but also we lost lots of races
because we didn't work as a team. Racing as an opponent, I have noticed that
Rabobank works very well as a block and the results are very good.
Are you expecting total support from the team?
O.F: They have signed me because they lacked a sprinter who would go
well in the mountains. The team has great rolleurs, particulary Dekker and
Boogerd, and knows how to look for the breaks. I'm another option if the break
doesn't work. Everything will depend on the race. I think that I will have total
support in the sprints. And here the finales are prepared well. The team
has powerful riders, and without fear of fighting.
What have they asked you?
O.F: For the moment, that I prepare well for the Classics. The World
Cup and Worlds will remain my objectives. Nothing has been said about me riding
the Tour or Vuelta.
How do you see this year's World Cup?
O.F: I think it will be very competitive. The riders from Mapei have
been dispersed over different teams and the fight will be balanced. Fassa
Bortolo and Quick Step will for sure be our main rivals.
O.F: I always go out to win. I don't feel inferior to anyone, but I
know that there are a good number of riders who can have the same options as
myself. I'm confident I will be in the fight, and hopefully win my first Classic
if the injuries respect me. Until now I have been unable to race a full year. If
everything goes normally, I know I can give a lot more this season.
And the Worlds? The circuit will be a lot tougher this year. Will it be
O.F: Everything has its advantages and inconveniences. This year it
will be more selective, but maybe better for the escapes.
What would have happened if your wheel didn't break with two kilometers to
go in Zolder?
O.F: I will always have that doubt. I was going well and with great
confidence. Many people tell me I wouldn't have beaten Cipollini in the sprint.
But I have defeated him before. Anyhow, I think I would have medal if I got to
the sprint in those Championships.
Oscar Freire at the Worlds 2002
Courtesy of cyclingpictures.de