"The Tour de France represents my major goal of the season," said 25 year-old Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) after winning stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie. The German escaped late in the race with Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne), who he out-sprinted for the win.
Fothen was already given the nod by the German team for the Tour but yesterday he showed that he has what it takes to be part of its nine-man team. "Before Romandie, I was already selected for the Gerolsteiner [Tour] team but this win is an important confirmation to the directeur sportifs that their confidence is well placed.
"This is a great team with a lot of good elements and one that allows freedom [in certain races]."
A close second in last year's young rider classification, he reckons the Tour is made for him. "I am not a racer for the spring; I need a certain amount of time to come into form, and I do well to prepare myself for races of two to three weeks."
He will race in Spain and France before July's Grand Boucle. "I am scheduled to participate in the Volta a Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré before the Tour de France."