Team Columbia says they are aiming to make their mark in Paris-Tours in France this Sunday by getting their riders in the breakaways. "That tactic worked out for us well on Thursday when Bernhard [Eisel] won Paris-Bourges so I don't see why it can't work on Sunday too." said team sports director Tristan Hoffman. "Getting that win on Thursday has certainly upped the team's motivation and proved that we've got a good chance of success. On top of that, we won't have any of our top fast-men there. Gerald Ciolek, who was due to be taking part, is sick and we'll only start with seven riders. So it makes sense for us to try and get somebody into one of those early moves rather than gamble it all on a bunch sprint."
Hoffman says that the weather will play a key role whether breaks get away in the 252-kilometre race. "If there's a headwind, the race lasts an hour longer and the bunch tends to stay together. A cross-wind makes everybody suffer and it's difficult for moves but not impossible. But if it's a tailwind or calm, then the breaks will go for sure."
The race profile is largely flat, but a succession of tiny climbs close to the the finish make a bunch sprint only one of several possible outcomes. "It's one of the hardest races to predict on the calendar." Hoffman said. "Those last climbs near the finish can either kill off a break, see one go clear, or split the peloton. The climbs aren't hard and the descents from each one aren't difficult, but coming so late in the race they can change everything around at the last minute."
Team Columbia for Paris-Tours will be Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Roger Hammond (GBr), Andreas Klier (Ger), Servais Knaven (Ned), Tony Martin (Ger), Vicente Reynes (Spa), Gert Dockx (Bel).