Óscar Freire Gómez (born 15 February 1976) is a former Spanish professional road bicycle racer. He was one of the top sprinters in road bicycle racing, having won the world championship three times, equalling Alfredo Binda, Rik Van Steenbergen, Eddy Merckx and Peter Sagan. In the later years of his career, he became more of a classics rider. He has won the cycling monument Milan–San Remo three times, four stages in the Tour de France and seven stages of the Vuelta a España, throughout a successful career.

Óscar Freire
Óscar Freire TR 2011.jpg
Freire at the 2011 Tour de Romandie
Personal information
Full nameÓscar Freire Gómez
NicknameThe Cat, Oscarito
Born (1976-02-15) 15 February 1976 (age 43)
Torrelavega, Spain
Height1.71 m (5 ft 7 12 in)
Weight64 kg (141 lb; 10 st 1 lb)
Team information
Current teamRetired
DisciplineRoad
RoleRider
Rider typeSprinter
Professional team(s)
1998–1999Vitalicio Seguros
2000–2002Mapei–Quick-Step
2003–2011Rabobank
2012Team Katusha
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
Points classification (2008)
4 individual stages
Vuelta a España
7 individual stages

Stage races

Tirreno–Adriatico (2005)

One-day races and Classics

World Road Race Championships (1999, 2001, 2004)
Milan–San Remo (2004, 2007, 2010)
Gent–Wevelgem (2008)
Vattenfall Cyclassics (2006)
Paris–Tours (2010)
Brabantse Pijl (2005, 2006, 2007)

Despite his diminutive stature, Freire was a good sprinter. He had a training philosophy where he rode shorter distances than most pro cyclists, sometimes covering only about half the distance his colleagues would.[1]

Contents

CareerEdit

Vitalicio Seguros (1998–1999)Edit

Born in Torrelavega, Cantabria, Freire became professional in 1998 with Vitalicio Seguros. He won one race that year, a stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. He came 11th in Paris–Tours. In 1999, Freire won little until the world championship in October. He went to Verona to make up numbers in the Spanish team. He spent his prize on an elevator for his grandmother's apartment.

Mapei-Quick Step (2000–2002)Edit

Freire joined Mapei in 2000. It had been ranked best team since 1994. That year he won 11 races including two stages in the Vuelta a España. He also came third place in the world championship. In 2001 he won two races and took the points competition in the Vuelta a Burgos, before becoming world champion for the second time. In 2002 he won a stage in the Tour de France.

Rabobank (2003–2011)Edit

In 2003, Freire moved to Rabobank, where in his first season he won six races. In 2004 he won Milan–San Remo, Trofeo Luis Puig, a stage and second place overall in Tirreno–Adriatico, a stage in the Vuelta a España and for the third time, and the second time in Verona, the world championship. He started 2005 winning three stages, the points classification and the yellow jersey at Tirreno–Adriatico, as well as the Brabantse Pijl, Trofeo Alcudia and Trofeo Mallorca, all before the end of March. His season was then cut short by a saddle sore.

In 2006, Freire won his second consecutive Brabantse Pijl. His stage 3 win at Tirreno–Adriatico allowed him to lead for two days. At the Tour de Suisse, he survived an early break of four riders to win alone on stage 7. Freire won the fifth and ninth stages in the 2006 Tour de France and was contesting the points classification when he retired due to illness. During stage twelve, he was in a breakaway with three others. Freire’s career has been blighted with injury and lay-offs. He had back problems, saddle sores and neck problems. When Yaroslav Popovych, riding for the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, rode away for victory, rumours spread that Freire had been ordered by Rabobank not to ride for the victory, to secure help from the Discovery Team in the mountains. Although rumours were denied by both teams, Freire was upset after the stage. Freire continued his successful year by winning the Vattenfall Cyclassics ahead of German favourite Erik Zabel. Freire had half of Rabobank’s victories in 2006. His season was cut short by neck and spinal injuries, forcing him to miss the Vuelta a España and world championship. Freire re-signed for Rabobank in late 2006 until the end of 2008, rejecting Saunier Duval-Prodir.

 
Freire at the 2008 Tour de France

In the 2007 Tour de France, he did not win a stage, partly because Rabobank was defending Michael Rasmussen's lead for a large part of the race. But he won three stages in the Vuelta a España. In the 2008 Tour, Freire wore the green jersey from stage 8. He won stage 14 and the points classification. In the 2009 Tour he and Julian Dean were shot by an air rifle during the 13th stage from Vittel to Colmar. He was shot in the thigh and finished the stage 117th.[2]

In March 2010, Freire won the 2010 Milan–San Remo in front of Tom Boonen and Alessandro Petacchi.[3] On 10 October 2010 Freire became the first Spaniard to win Paris–Tours and in doing so became the new holder of the Ruban Jaune for setting the fastest average speed in a classic race, he covered the 233 km at an average of 47.73 km per hour.[4]

Shortly before the 2011 UCI Road World Championships it was announced that Óscar Freire would retire at the end of the season if he did not win the World Championship road race. Freire ended negotiations to continue his contract with his team before the race, and noted health issues include worsening respiratory problems, having had sinus and nasal surgery in the last two years. He was unable to race the 2011 Tour de France and was forced to abandon the 2011 Vuelta a España.[5]

Team Katusha (2012)Edit

Initially, Freire planned to finish his career by 2012, but at the end of season 2011 he suddenly changed his mind. While his home Rabobank team, confused by the situation and Oscar's indecision, failed to provide him an extension for another year, Freire had to start talks with other teams.[6] Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Lotto-Belisol and Geox-TMC expressed their interest to secure his service for season 2012, but Freire chose Team Katusha. He was reported to have been swayed by Team Katusha because the Russian team had a good number of other Spanish riders on its roster along with its well-organised structure and guaranteed entry into WorldTour races.[6]

By 2012 Freire fully recovered from his previous health problems and managed to show very good results at the first opening races. In January he won stage 3 of Australian Tour Down Under, and then completed his success at stage 3 of Vuelta a Andalucia. At the spring classics Oscar Freire finished 7th at Milan–San Remo, while having taken two second places: one at E3 Harelbeke where he was edged on the line by Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma–Quick-Step)[7] and the other at the Brabantse Pijl, where he dominated the sprint of the chasers after lone escapee Thomas Voeckler of Team Europcar had crossed the line.[8] He then went on to finish 4th in the Amstel Gold Race. He escaped from the lead group with 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to cover and held an advantage of 18 seconds at the bottom of the final climb, the Cauberg. He was passed in the final meters, but managed to held on for fourth.[9]

In an interview to the French magazine Velochrono, Freire claimed to take part in the Olympics in London along with the Tour de France and UCI Road World Championships.[10] Freire later admitted that he was contemplating retirement if he didn't win the rainbow jersey, and that he would keep riding for another year or two if he wins the 2012 UCI Championships.[11] He retired from professional cycling at the end of 2012, reportedly refusing a deal from Euskaltel–Euskadi, who would have liked him to race for the 2013 season and then take a post in management.[12] The Basque team was suspected of trying to hoard in Freire's crucial UCI World Tour points, which would help them get a World Tour license for 2013, but the team management denied it.[13]

Career achievementsEdit

Major resultsEdit

1997
2nd   Road race, UCI Road World Under–23 Championships
1998
1st Stage 1 Vuelta a Castilla y León
3rd Road race, National Road Championships
1999
1st   Road race, UCI Road World Championships
2000
Vuelta a España
1st Stages 2 & 4
Tirreno–Adriatico
1st Stages 1 & 6
Vuelta a Aragón
1st   Points classification
1st Stages 3 & 4
1st Trofeo Mallorca
1st Stage 3 Giro della Provincia di Lucca
1st Stage 3 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
3rd   Road race, UCI Road World Championships
3rd Milan–San Remo
2001
1st   Road race, UCI Road World Championships
Vuelta a Burgos
1st   Points classification
1st Stage 5
1st Stage 4 Deutschland Tour
2nd Paris–Tours
2002
1st Stage 2 Tour de France
1st Manacor-Porto Cristo
1st Cala Rajada – Cala Millor
2003
1st   Overall Giro della Provincia di Lucca
1st Stage 1 & 2
Vuelta a Andalucía
1st   Points classification
1st Stage 1 & 2
1st Stage 7 Tirreno–Adriatico
1st Stage 5 Volta a Catalunya
2004
1st   Road race, UCI Road World Championships
1st Milan–San Remo
1st Trofeo Luis Puig
1st Trofeo Cala Millor – Cala Rajada
1st Stage 6 Vuelta a España
1st Stage 3 Tirreno–Adriatico
2005
1st   Overall Tirenno–Adriatico
1st   Points classification
1st Stages 2, 3 & 4
1st Brabantse Pijl
1st Trofeo Alcudia
1st Trofeo Mallorca
2006
Tour de France
1st Stages 5 & 9
1st Vattenfall Cyclassics
1st Brabantse Pijl
1st RaboRonde Heerlen
1st Stage 7 Tour de Suisse
1st Stage 4 Tour of the Basque Country
1st Stage 3 Tirenno–Adriatico
2007
1st   Overall Vuelta a Andalucía
1st   Points classification
1st Stages 2 & 5
1st Milan–San Remo
1st Brabantse Pijl
1st Trofeo Mallorca
Vuelta a España
1st Stages 2, 5 & 6
Held   after Stages 2–3
2nd Vattenfall Cyclassics
3rd Gent–Wevelgem
3rd Paris–Tours
2008
Tour de France
1st   Points classification
1st Stage 14
1st Gent–Wevelgem
Tirreno–Adriatico
1st   Points classification
1st Stages 1, 4 & 6
1st Stage 11 Vuelta a España
1st Stage 1 Tour de Suisse
2009
Tour de Romandie
1st Stages 2 & 5
2010
1st Milan–San Remo
1st Paris–Tours
1st Trofeo Calla Millor
Vuelta a Andalucía
1st Stages 2 & 3
Tour of the Basque Country
1st Stages 1 & 2
6th Road race, UCI Road World Championships
2011
Vuelta a Andalucía
1st   Points classification
1st Stages 3 & 4
6th Amstel Gold Race
9th Road race, UCI Road World Championships
2012
1st Stage 4 Tour Down Under
1st Stage 3 Vuelta a Andalucía
2nd E3 Harelbeke
2nd Brabantse Pijl
4th Amstel Gold Race
7th Milan–San Remo
10th Road race, UCI Road World Championships

Classics resultsEdit

Monument 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Milan–San Remo 3 5 7 1 5 6 1 8 1 94 7
Tour of Flanders 30 23 49 40 12
Paris–Roubaix Did not contest during career
Liège–Bastogne–Liège 22 35 14 96 14 77 11 14 15 24
Giro di Lombardia 13 21 26 49 DNF DNF
Classic 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Gent–Wevelgem 38 3 1 12 4
Brabantse Pijl 2 1 1 1 37 9 11 2
Amstel Gold Race 45 9 5 14 14 10 17 8 19 64 14 6 4
La Flèche Wallonne 19 51 32 5 75 11 33 58 88 83
Clásica de San Sebastián 72 5 11 83 11 72
Vattenfall Cyclassics 13 25 4 1 2
Paris–Tours 44 2 11 42 3 2 18 5 1 20
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
UCI Road World Championships 17 1 3 1 156 9 1 14 38 15 6 9 10
Legend
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "2012 Tour Down Under: It's a sprinters affair". On The Record. On The Record. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Freire, Dean shot at during Tour stage". Cycling News. Future Publishing Limited. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Milan–San Remo 2010: Spain's Oscar Freire wins in sprint finish". Telegraph. 20 February 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  4. ^ Cyclingnews.com Gives details of 2010 edition of Paris–Tours.
  5. ^ Cyclingnews.com Freire: World title or retirement.
  6. ^ a b "Freire confirms he wants to race in 2012". Telegraph. 6 November 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  7. ^ Richard Abraham (23 March 2012). "Boonen wins E3 Harelbeke". Cycling Weekly. IPC Media Sports & Leisure network. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  8. ^ "Brabantse Pijl 2012 results". Velo News. 2012 Competitor Group, Inc. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  9. ^ Wynn, Nigel (15 April 2012). "Gasparotto wins Amstel Gold Race". Cycling Weekly. IPC Media Limited. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  10. ^ "2012 will be final curtain for Freire". Cycling News. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  11. ^ "After Amstel, Freire said he now believed he could win a fourth rainbow jersey". Cycling News. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Freire turned down Euskaltel-Euskadi offer for 2013". Cycling News. Future Publishing Limited. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  13. ^ Andrew Hood (5 October 2012). "Euskaltel-Euskadi denies 'deal for points' with Oscar Freire". Velo News. 2012 Competitor Group, Inc. Retrieved 16 December 2012.

External linksEdit