Just two days after Paris Nice organizers and the UCI worked out a deal to allow the 18 original ProTour teams to compete, ASO announced a full list of teams for the March 11-18 event. The 19th ProTour team, Astana, was included, but Unibet.com, was not.
Traditionally, the race serves as an early season chance to see how teams stack up against each other. Past winners like Jacques Anquetil, Eddie Merckx, Sean Kelly, Miguel Indurain, Laurent Jalabert, Alexandre Vinokourov and Floyd Landis have tended to do well continuing on into the season.
Organizers have suggested fans look across the Atlantic for potential favourites. Last year's winner of the Tour of California, Floyd Landis also took the spoils at Paris-Nice. That puts Discovery Channel racer Levi Leipheimer in the hot seat for this year.
Other favourites expected to challenge the likes of Leipheimer are CSC's Franck Schleck and Bobby Julich; T-Mobile's Patrick Sinkewitz and Axel Merckx (TMO), Predictor-Lotto's Cadel Evans, Astana's Antonio Colom, and François de Jeux's Philippe Gilbert.
Sprinters like Tom Boonen, look to make their mark. Already with six victories this year, Boonen is a proven success at Paris Nice (three victories in 2006, two in 2005). The Italian Daniele Bennati seems most likely to counter Boonen next week, but look out also for Cyril Dessel, Sylvain Calzati, and Pierrick Fedrigo.
20 teams will be competing.
Euskaltel - Euskadi
Française Des Jeux
Predictor - Lotto
Saunier Duval - Prodir