Team High Road's Kim Kirchen took second in the Tour of Switzerland last year, and with some stellar results already under his belt in 2008, Kirchen will be hoping to take one more step up on the GC ladder. The winner of La Flèche Wallonne and two stages of the Vuelta al País Vasco has been honing his form in the mountains in preparation.
"Kim was going well in the Bayern Rundfahrt even after a long break from racing in May," commented team sports director Brian Holm. "But he told us that he was quite tired after the team training camp we've just had in the Pyrenees."
"We're hoping he'll move up another level here in Switzerland, it's clearly a race that suits him," Holm continued, but added that there is no pressure. His main focus is, of course, on the Tour de France, a race which he finished in seventh overall last year.
"We're not too worried about him going in too deep here then paying the price in the Tour de France. He finished second here then seventh in the Tour in 2007, so you can't say riding hard here did his chances much harm in July!"
While last year's Tour de Suisse route favoured his explosive power, the presence of a mountain time trial will certainly test his abilities in going uphill fast. "Kim should be able to handle it. The big mountain time trial [on the penultimate stage] is what will make all the difference."
High Road for Tour of Switzerland: Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Nor), Gerald Ciolek (Ger), Kim Kirchen (Lux), Thomas Lövkvist (Swe), Morris Possoni (Ita), Vicente Reynes (Spa) and Marcel Sieberg (Ger).
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