By Gregor Brown
Marco Pinotti will follow up one of his most successful seasons with a start in the 2009 Paris-Nice. It will be the first time for the Italian from Bergamo to line up in the Race to the Sun, scheduled for March 8 to 15.
"I usually don't go well already in the month of March, but I will try, it's prestigious. I will race the Critérium International the week after. The team decided on this schedule and I was more than happy to oblige," Pinotti said to Cyclingnews.
Pinotti, three-time Italian time trial champion, might have opportunities if the race features a long time trial. He won the final time trial of the 2008 Giro d'Italia and surprised many with his overall win in the Tour of Ireland last fall.
The 32-year-old is training to prepare for the upcoming Team Columbia training camp in Palma, Spain, and the 2009 season. He was unable to ride New Year's Day due to bad temperatures, but went out on January 3 for four hours with a small group of amateurs and local professionals.
He will start his season at the Challenge Mallorca, February 8 to 12, after the team camp.
"The team will start in Australia [Tour Down Under] and Qatar because it wants to have the men to make a good showing at the Tour of California. The rest of us will start in Mallorca."
Pinotti will race his home tour, the Giro d'Italia, again this year. He will support Mark Cavendish for the sprints and make sure the team has a successful start with the 20.5-kilometre team time trial on the shores of Venice.