By Andrew Hood
Kim Kirchen is optimistic that the road to bigger success from his breakout 2008 season goes through California.
The Luxembourg all-rounder will debut his 2009 season at the California tour and he’s hoping the race will put him on the same trajectory that saw him win Flèche Wallonne and enjoy a spell in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
“California is a good place to start. I raced there last year,” Kirchen said. “It’s a good race to get ready for the spring classics. I’m not going to be ready to try to win, but we will go with a strong team.”
Kirchen will be part of a strong Columbia-High Road team that will also include George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish, Michael Barry and Michael Rogers.
Kirchen came out of last year’s Tour of California with guns a blasting and he went on to enjoy his most successful spring ever, winning two stages at the Vuelta al País Vasco and then his breakout victory at Flèche ahead of wearing the maillot jaune for four days in July.
Editor’s Note: If you missed it last week, check out Andrew Hood’s complete interview with Kim Kirchen.
Kirchen’s tentative 2009 schedule
Feb. 14-22: Tour of California
March 11-17: Tirreno-Adriatico
March 21: Milan-San Remo
March 28: Prijs Vlaanderen, Harelbeke
April 5: Tour of Flanders
April 6-11: Vuelta al País Vasco
April 19: Amstel Gold Race
April 22: Flèche Wallonne
April 26: Liège-Bastogne-Liège
May 11-17: Volta a Catalunya
June 7-14: Dauphiné Libéré
June 26: Luxembourg national TT championship
June 28: Luxembourg national RR championship
July 4-26: Tour de France