Martin to defend Paris-Nice title for Omega Pharma-Quick Step

Leipheimer and Chavanel co-captains for Belgian team

Tony Martin will look to defend his overall title in Paris-Nice, but if he falters, his Omega Pharma-Quick Step co-leaders Levi Leipheimer and Sylvain Chavanel are ready to take on the challenge.  The Belgian team announced its line-up for the “Race to the Sun” on Thursday.

"The team has a very high level line up," said Sports Director Brian Holm. "There's a lot of talent on the squad. Our goal is to fight for final victory.”

Martin won the time trial last year to move himself into the lead of the race, a position he held on to until the end. “The opening time trial and the closing time trial will be very important in the economy of the race, as will the 5th stage with an uphill arrival in Mende,” said Holm.

“In general, as always it will be a hard fought Paris-Nice, we'll have to ride paying close attention to hidden hazards on the route. As far as we're concerned we're going to race to try to protect our leaders and set them up in the best conditions to play for final victory. The group is very strong and suited to any type of terrain.”

The team's wild card will be sprinter Tom Boonen, who “will try to play his cards on the stages that favour him and will put his own experience to the service of the team when necessary."

They will all be supported by Kevin De Weert and Dries Devenyns on the climbs, and Nikolas Maes and Stijn Vandenbergh on the flats.

Paris-Nice starts on Sunday, March 4, with a 9.4km time trial from Dampierre-en-Yvelines to Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, which includes a Category three climb.  It ends one week later with another short time trial which finishes atop the Category one Col d'Eze.

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