Kirchen opposed to cobbles in 2010 Tour, criticises inclusion of unnecessary risks
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Kirchen opposed to cobbles in 2010 Tour, criticises inclusion of unnecessary risks

by Conal Andrews at 7:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

Team Katusha’s Grand Tour contender Kim Kirchen has voiced his opposition to the inclusion of cobblestones in this year’s Tour de France, faulting organisers ASO for what he said is a potentially risky move.

“Frankly, the Tour is not the place for that,” he told DHnet.be. “It is very illogical. It emphasises safety, we are forced to wear helmets, but then it requires us to do a stage that will be very dangerous. For an event like the Tour de France, the nervousness is enormous, and especially during the first week.”

While Kirchen states that he enjoys racing on cobbles in the Classics, his contention is that that the stakes are simply too high in the Tour. “I regret that ASO favours the spectacle this way, not thinking about the safety of the riders,” he explained, on the subject of the stage three route to Porte du Hainault. “It will take luck not to fall.”

The Luxembourg time trial champion had a painful reminder of what happens when things go wrong, crashing heavily during last year’s Tour of California and breaking his collarbone. The fracture healed relatively quickly, but the mental effects lingered and took much longer to get over.

“Psychologically it was a blow,” he admitted. “When I came back, I consistently found myself in the back of the peloton, which is often dangerous, and I began to be afraid of falling again. I was braking much more often that usual. But now things are better.”

Kirchen’s undoubtedly lost out as a result of the accident, with the crash and its effects on his racing programme undermining his results last season. “I still had some good days in 2009, including the Tour de Suisse [where he won a stage and finished ninth overall], and the Tour de France,” he said. “If I had not suffered stomach problems there [in the Tour], I might not have been too far from the top ten. But I missed a little something in the whole season because of this fall at the beginning of the year.”

Moving to Katusha:

After four years as part of the T-Mobile/Team High Road/Columbia HTC setup, Kirchen changed teams and will compete with the Russian ProTour squad Katusha in 2010. It’s likely that his below-par 2009 season was a factor, and so too the realisation that HTC Columbia is more and more focussed around its sprinter Mark Cavendish.

The team has said that it has put its GC ambitions on hold this year in order to give Cavendish the best possible chance of winning the Green Jersey.

Kirchen will however be able to chase his usual targets with his new team. “The goal remains a strong overall result and a stage result; both can go together,” he said. “However I regret that we have once again favoured the climbers. I wish there was one more stage against the clock.”

His initial impressions of his new team are favourable ones. “The training [camp] was very good, very professional, even if it has not always been on the same wavelength,” he said. “But it will do me good to change, it will give me a boost. And I am convinced that Katusha is the strongest team for all of the Classics. We are very comprehensive and not just limited to pavé as Quick Step is, for example.”

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