Spaniard Oscar Freire is banking on his experience from two Milan-San Remo wins to beat youngsters like Mark Cavendish and Edvald Boasson Hagen this Saturday.

“I think the experience in San Remo is really important,” Freire told Cycling Weekly. “Everyone knows the important moments but sometimes you are not in the right place at the right moment. The experience helps, it is really important in this classic.”

Freire won his first Milano-San Remo in 2004, at the age of 28, in a sneaky sprint over German Erik Zabel. He repeated his win in the Italian 298-kilometre classic three years later, in 2007.

HTC-Columbia’s Cavendish and Rabobank’s Freire have both suffered minor setbacks in their lead ups. Freire came down with a cold a few days after Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and had to skip three days training. Brit Cavendish delayed the start of his season due to teeth problems.

“There are a lot of strong guys: Tom Boonen, Daniel Bennati, Filippo Pozzato. Cavendish, I don’t know, I have my doubts,” Sports Director Erik Breukink told Cycling Weekly. “It is better for Freire, because when Cavendish is there he is by far the fastest.”

Cavendish and Freire are both racing Tirreno-Adriatico this week. The final stage is tomorrow, a chance for the sprinters, and Breukink will be watching closely.

“I think he [Cavendish] is suffering here, it is not like he is training. But he is a special rider. If he can focus on passing the Poggio then he can sprint and it does not matter how he feels.

“For Rabobank it is good if it is a hard race when Oscar is feeling okay because then there are more chances in the sprint for him.

“We have confidence in Oscar.”

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