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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Oscar Freire
FREIRE PROFILE
Oscar Freire
DOB: 15/2/1976
Nationality: Spanish
Best Tour: 2002 - stage victory
Oscar Freire proved himself to be a class act against the world's best sprinters last year before being forced to retire following a crash.

The Spaniard won stage two and was only just kept out from victory on stage six by the narrowest of margins by Erik Zabel.

This time around he looks a strong bet to challenge the likes of Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady and Erik Zabel for the green jersey, should he survive the mountains.

His move from Mapei to Rabobank should help his cause, as the Dutch team have a host of talent to lead him to stage wins.

His sprinting has never been in question. He has twice been crowned road race world champion, most recently in 2002 when he snuck up the inside of the bunch to outsprint his rivals in Lisbon.

At 27, the Spaniard is still some way off his peak and is steadily improving as a sprinter with every season.

It has not all been plain sailing for Freire who has been dogged by a series of injuries, including on-going back problems.

He was also kept out of the sport for some of 2001 by viral gastro-enteritis.

Illness and injury now look to have passed and Freire will be aiming for stage wins in this year's race.





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