Óscar Freire, three times world champion in long-distance road cycling, told EFE that he feels a bit “envy” of the visibility that the classics now have among the Spanish fans.since he recalled that during his stage they were hardly paid attention.
“Now at least they can be seen. Before, I used to run a Milan-San Remo and not even my family could follow it. Today’s cyclists are that lucky.” said the former Cantabrian runner in La Nucía, where he received a tribute during the Sports Gala along with Abraham Olano, the first Spanish world champion, and Samuel Sánchez, Olympic gold.
Freire, who won Milan-San Remo three times and is the Spaniard with the most victories in classicshe was happy about the good media moment of cycling and recalled that, despite having been retired for ten years, “passion is not lost.”
“Cycling was part of my life and continues to be,” added Freire, who believes a “Change of mentality” in Spanish cycling so that “classic addicts” can appear with chances of victory.
“The pity is that now that they are seen we do not have potential winners of classics or grand tours, like in my time, but let’s hope that they will come out little by little, although I see it as complicated ”, indicated the Cantabrian.
“In Spain we still have the mentality of testing for one week or three weeks, but not for one day and until it begins to change that will be difficult. that these types of runners come out ”, he argued.
Regarding current cycling, Óscar Freire said he was “delighted” with the show offered by the leaders of the world squad.
“Many times you are surprised because They are capable of attacking 50 and 60 kilometers from the finish line and they arrive. After a few boring years, in which the big teams blocked the race, they destroy the race and they make it very attractive,” he said, referring to Tadej Pogacar, Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel.
“These three are very good and they do everything well. I more or less defended myself going up and I sprinted well, but now Van Aert wins the queen stage, a time trial and the sprint”explained the former cyclist, who does not see himself reflected in anyone in the current peloton.
“Comparisons are complicated and even more so with such good runners”pointed out the Spaniard, who stated that the competition between Van Aert and Van der Poel is a blessing for the fans.
“They create a lot of excitement from cyclocross to the road and they do cycling a lot of good. They fill the circuits like never seen before. When you think one is going to win, the other wins. And vice versa, ”she indicated.
“And then there is Pogacar, who is capable of doing the same and winning a Tour”added Freire, who praised the “ambition” of the Slovenian, although he believes that as he gains experience he will learn to dose himself.
“It is good that it is like that, that it is like Merckx at the time. The truth is that these three do not forgive you one ”, joked the Spaniard, who broke a spear for the cycling of his time by recalling that riders like Michele Bartoli or Paolo Bettini “also gave a show in the classics, but they did not have as much visibility as now.”
Finally, Freire thanked the recognition received at the Sports Gala “because it is not easy for them to remember one in a country like Spain, where there are so many successes and champions every year in all disciplines”.
“Being remembered after so many years means a lot and It’s a sign that we did something right,” he concluded.