Columbia-Highroad heads for the Vuelta al País Vasco in Spain this Monday with an identical strategy to 2008, which is going for stage wins. Last year, Columbia-Highroad's Kim Kirchen won two stages (stage two and stage four) and finished seventh overall.
"We'll start this year's race with exactly the same idea we had in 2008, of taking it day-by-day," said Sports Director Valerio Piva. "For the majority of our team here, the Tour of the Basque Country is the beginning of their build up for the Ardennes Classics.
"Initially we won't really be thinking about the overall classification, though. This is a very prestigious race where the Spanish are always extremely motivated and on top of that they've made the route a lot tougher this year. But I have no doubt we'll be in the thick of the action every day, whatever happens. And last year that worked out perfectly."
After fracturing his collarbone earlier this season in the Tour of California, Kirchen will not be taking part in the Basque Country and instead will start racing again at the Circuit de la Sarthe this week. "The Tour of the Basque Country would be too tough a comeback event for him," Piva said. "But I know he's very keen to get back into racing as soon as possible."
Columbia-Highroad's line-up for the Tour of the Basque Country: Michael Albasini, Craig Lewis, Thomas Lövkvist, Maxime Monfort, Marco Pinotti, Morris Possoni, Michael Rogers and Kanstantsin Siutsou.