Oscar Freire is considering a dream scenario, winning a record fourth world title in Valkenburg. The Spaniard of team Katusha narrowly missed the win yesterday in Amstel Gold, which proved to be a perfect trial for the World Championship.
"It's a similar course," Freire said following the Dutch race. "The Worlds maybe will be better [for me] because the finish line is almost a kilometre after the Cauberg."
World Championships this September 23 follows a similar route as the Amstel Gold. The first 100 kilometres from Maastricht to Valkenburg take in seven climbs, four that featured in yesterday's race. The race enters a 16.5-kilometre circuit afterwards, covering the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg climb 10 times each.
Freire won his world titles in 1999, 2001 and 2004 in small group sprints. Yesterday, he attacked solo with seven kilometres remaining between the Keutenberg and final Cauberg climb. He nearly held off the charge behind led by Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), only falling short to the first three finishers: Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).
He faded on the 1.2-kilometre climb, but still did well to place fourth. In his favour, the finish line is around 1.5 kilometres later in the Worlds, on a flat, almost downhill road.
"I was very close to the victory," Freire explained. It would have been his biggest win since winning Milan-San Remo and Paris-Tours in 2010, and it would have come in a completely different style.
"It was a strong headwind and impossible to recover on your own. If the wind was slightly different, I think I could've won.
"My legs felt like they were going to explode when I went to sprint. The last 400 metres felt like the hardest climb ever."
Freire placed second on Wednesday in the Brabantse Pijl. The 36-year-old said after the race in a television interview that if he wins Worlds, he'd consider postponing retirement one more year.
"I'd like to race another year with the World Champion's jersey. It'd be very difficult, but why not?"
Oscar Freire: Rider profile
Amstel Gold: Gasparotto nails big win
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
Best bicycle insurance, including what you need to know and how to compare
Wondering how to protect your pride and joy? Our helpful guide tells you all you need to know about bicycle insurance
By Hannah Bussey • Published
Five talking points from stage eleven of the Giro d’Italia 2022
The Cycling Weekly highlights package from the stage which finally saw an Italian win at the home race this year
By Luke Friend • Published