Thomas Lövkvist will start today’s Eneco Tour hoping to build his form for the World Championships and help his team secure the overall classification. The 24-year-old will line up with a strong Columbia-HTC team, including Edvald Boasson Hagen and Michael Rogers. The squad will be looking to improve on last year’s performance, where they managed to place three riders in the top seven and win two stages.
"My number aim one is to try and get through Eneco without crashing but we have a strong team here and I’ll be looking to support them as much as possible. But if there a stage where I can get myself in a good position then I might go for a stage win," Lövkvist told Cyclingnews on the eve of the race, which kicks off with a 4.8km prologue on Tuesday.
Despite confirming that he will leave the team at the end of the season for pastures new, Columbia will be looking to ride for Boasson Hagen. The race features two short time trials that suit his skills. "He is really going well and showed that in Tour of Pologne and in Hamburg [at the Vattenfall Cyclassics] on Sunday. If he can keep himself out of trouble I think he has a good chance of doing well on the general classification," Lövkvist added.
Lövkvist has already had a demanding season, having started racing in March and competing in the Giro d’Italia for the first time in his career. He won the opening team time trial in the Italian race and backed that up by holding the leader’s jersey for several days before succumbing in the high mountains. "The form is coming along nicely. I had a break after the nationals in June and trained really well and now I’m seeing the benefits of that."
"I did the Giro and I had big hopes for doing the Tour but it didn’t happen and I had to reschedule my season. Hopefully I can have a good second half of the season as I normally I perform all year round. I feel fresher and that might be good for the Worlds. That’s the big aim."
With no contract for 2010, Lövkvist will use the remainder of the season to resolve his future, having spent the last two seasons with Columbia. "I’ve not signed a contract with Columbia yet so there is a possibility of a change but nothing has been confirmed in either direction."
However any contract distractions haven’t affected his dedication or training, with the Swede having already profiled the World championship road course. "I’ve been down to look at the course already. It will be a very demanding race but I hope I’ll be on my best day. I’m pleased with my season. I took two wins and led the Giro, where I was up there with the big guys for quite a while. I’m happy and I’ve taken a step in the right direction."