A very successful few days at Tirreno-Adriatico have, bizarrely, deprived world champ and new ProTou
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Oscar Freire’s stunning start to the season, which began with a couple of wins in the Majorca Challenge and stepped up another couple of notches with three stage wins and overall victory in Tirreno-Adriatico this week, has inadvertently forced the Spaniard out of the world champion’s rainbow jersey at Milan-San Remo on Saturday. Freire’s Tirreno performance earned him 53 ProTour points, and put him three ahead of Paris-Nice winner Bobby Julich in the first set of ProTour standings. Under International Cycling Union regulations, the ProTour’s white leader’s jersey takes precedence over the rainbow jersey. Consequently, the Spaniard will be wearing a jersey without the distinctive rainbow bands when he defends his Milan-San Remo title. Rabobank sprinter Freire is none too happy about the loss of his world champion’s jersey, telling AS: “I would like to ride San Remo with the rainbow jersey because it is much more important and has got greater tradition. The UCI’s ProTour jersey is a new invention and nobody knows about it yet.” Asked if the fact that he is set to wear an unknown jersey might work to his advantage on Saturday, Freire responded: “I’d be better wearing the rainbow jersey because people let you pass when you’ve got it on.” The UCI’s Alain Rumpf also has reservations about the ProTour jersey regulation. “It’s not ideal,” the UCI’s road racing coordinator told L’Equipe. “Imagine if Freire has a fantastic season and remains leader of the ProTour throughout, then we would never see the world champion’s jersey in the big events all year. The UCI’s management committee has asked us to mull over this issue.” Budding fashion designers should send their suggestions for a compromise jersey for Freire to the UCI. – Liberty Seguros are the first leaders of the ProTour’s team classification. The Spanish squad’s third place finishes in the team standings at both Paris-Nice and Tirreno earned them 36 ProTour points, two ahead of Discovery Channel, with Fassa Bortolo third on 31.