Kirchen Katusha bound in 2010

Luxembourger leaves Columbia after two years

Kim Kirchen will ride for Team Katusha in 2010, he announced today. The Luxembourger is leaving Team Columbia-HTC after two seasons with the American squad.

Kirchen, 31, said that he had been unable to reach an agreement for a contract extension with Columbia, and he told team management this past weekend that he would be leaving the team.

"This will be like a new start," he told the Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt. "A real motivation push."

"Through the end of the season I will fulfil my assignments at Columbia to the best of my ability," Kirchen noted. "Then I will look forward to the first meeting with my new teammates."

Kirchen's biggest success at Columbia was winning the Fleche Wallonne in 2008. That year was also his most successful season to date. He also wore the yellow leader's jersey at the Tour de France for four stages and the green points jersey for six, before he finished eighth overall.

He finished seventh overall at the Tour in 2007 and was awarded the win in stage 15 after Alexandre Vinokourov was disqualified for doping.

This year saw a tough start for the Luxembourg national time trial champion (2008 and 2009). He broke a collarbone in stage four of the Tour of California. The injury kept him out of competition until May. Kirchen won a stage at the Tour de Suisse and went on to ride the Tour de France, where he finished 57th overall.

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