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Vacansoleil's Johnny Hoogerland hopes to set up for a strong finish to his season with a good result at today's Paris-Bourges, in France. Speaking to Cyclingnews on the morning of the race, the Dutch rider said he expected the event to be decided by a small group, of which he will aim to be a part.
"Today's a nice race for me because it will be hard," said Hoogerland. "Today I think there will be a big escape of about 15 riders and they're going to sprint for the victory."
Hoogerland had reason to be confident, carrying good form from last month's Vuelta a España and World Championships. His 12th place overall finish in Spain was backed up by 14th in the Worlds road race. The latter result, in Switzerland, was the best-placed finish by a Dutchman.
"I came out of the Worlds with a lot of confidence. I spoke to my [Vacansoleil] manager Hilaire Van Der Schueren afterwards and he said 'you need to go easy after Worlds', but I said I want to keep racing because I'm feeling so good now."
After today's Paris-Bourges, Hoogerland will start in Paris-Tours on Sunday. With a sprint finish a likely scenario for the French Classic, he indicated that the race, along with the Giro del Piamonte in Italy next week, will serve more as preparation for his last major goal of the season: the Giro di Lombardia on October 17.
"Sunday [at Paris-Tours] is a classic so it's always special and Piamonte is usually a sprint from a big group. Lombardia is my final goal for this season."
Hoogerland will close his season at the Amstel Curaçao Race in the Netherlands Antilles on November 7. While the Curaçao race may not carry the prestige of the Vuelta or Lombardia, it will see him extend his racing season to more than nine months; something that Hoogerland hopes will set him up well for 2010.
"By racing right up until the end of the season I will have had more than 100 racing days and I think that will make me stronger for next year," he said. "It also makes the winter shorter when you race all the way up until the end."
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