Kim Kirchen of Team Columbia has planned his build-up to the 2009 Tour de France, starting with the Tour of California and ending with the Luxembourg national championships.
His race schedule for the coming year is very similar to this season's, with one major change: the 30-year-old will ride the Dauphiné Libéré in June instead of the Tour de Suisse, which he has ridden for the last seven years. That will be his last stage race before the Tour.
Kirchen's preparations start with training camps on Mallorca from November 28-December 11, January 4-16 and February 4-14. From there he will fly to the United States and race in the Tour of California, before returning to Europe for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo.
Four Spring Classics are also on the list: Ronde van Vlaanderen, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne (which he won in 2008) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. They will be followed by the Vuelta a Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré.
The team has thus decided to have Kirchen ride the Spring Classics as well as contending at the Tour de France again, in which this year he finished eighth. Last July, Columbia's directeur sportif Rolf Aldag assessed that it wasn't easy to choose between year-round competitiveness and focusing on a Tour de France build-up.
"During the Tour, we asked ourselves if it would have been better if Kirchen had started later during the season," Aldag said. "Then again, he's a rider who shines in the Classics, too. If you risk it and put everything on the Tour, it wouldn't suit his aggressive riding style, either. You should only do that if you believe that he can one day win it. Otherwise, it's just too nice to see him ride at the Classics. It's not realistic to win everything."