Columbia-Highroad gives Monfort his chance in Paris-Nice

Columbia-Highroad's Maxime Monfort is poised to be one of the team's main challengers for the...

Columbia-Highroad's Maxime Monfort is poised to be one of the team's main challengers for the overall classification of Paris-Nice, which starts March 8.

"The last part of the course, being so hilly, suits an Ardennes Classics specialist like Maxime well," said Brian Holm, Columbia-Highroad's sports director, in a press release. "On top of that he's raced a lot in France with his former team, Cofidis, so he knows how to tackle the big races in that country, like Paris-Nice.

"I've followed Maxime's progress ever since he won the Tour of Luxemburg when he started out as a pro," continued Holm. "I think he's capable of some great riding, but first he has to convince himself that he is up to the task."

Holm commented on the depth of the team supporting Monfort.

"In any case, our Paris-Nice squad has a lot of strength. In all my time as a directeur sportif, I can honestly say I don't think I've ever raced with such a great line-up. Before it's always been a little bit like I was taking the B-squad! Marcus [Burghardt] is going well, too, and I know that Michael Barry is in really good shape."

The opening nine kilometre time trial could favour Tony Martin, according to Holm.

"It's a little bit like last year's prologue, partly technical and partly flatter. For Tony, that's ideal."

For the early sprints, Mark Renshaw will have an opportunity to break out of his usual role as lead-out man for Mark Cavendish.

"We always say the day you stop wanting to win bike races is the day you should quit the sport, and de-motivated team workers never make for good racers," said Holm. "Paris-Nice will be one of those chances for Mark Renshaw to show us what he can do in his own right as well."

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