Boonen in France, Bettini in Italy

The Belgian Quick.Steppers have communicated their line-ups for the next races. For Paris-Nice, starting this Sunday, March 5, the team will be consisting of Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Nick Nuyens, Matteo Tosatto, Guido Trenti, Jurgen Van De Walle and Cedric Vasseur.

The World Champion has been training in preparation for the race in Montecarlo since Wednesday. "The weather is great and the area in and around Monaco is perfect for this important training as there are some good climbs," Boonen said. "My teammates Kevin Hulsmans, Kevin Van Impe and Steven De Jongh have also joined me here in Monaco. It’s certainly more fun and stimulating training together."

Boonen will be leaving the principality on Saturday late morning for Paris where he will be receiving the Velo D’Or award at the headquarters of the French Velo magazine in the afternoon. After the award ceremony, Boonen will be going to the Eurosport studios where he will appear as a guest in one of their programs.

"Last year’s Paris-Nice left me very satisfied but I think this year’s route will be harder," Boonen continued. "The prologue certainly will be a bit too tough for me but I’ll still do my very best. Then there are a few stages where I should be able to look toward a win. I’ll be taking part in Paris-Nice with a view to the next classics, in particular Milano-Sanremo. Winning a race is always great for morale but, at the moment, it is not absolutely necessary. One thing I’m certainly hoping is that the weather is better than it was during last year’s race."

With a second roster currently competing in Belgium at the Driedaagse West Vlaanderen, a third Quick.Step contingent will travel to Italy to participate in the Giro della Provincia di Lucca, scheduled for Monday, March 6. Olympic champion Paolo Bettini will lead the team in Lucca, together with Serge Baguet, Davide Bramati, Steven De Jongh, Servais Knaven, Ivan Santaromita, Bram Tankink and Kevin Van Impe.

"I’m glad to be racing in Italy, above all in Tuscany on my home ground," Bettini said. "After the final climb there are lots of kilometres of riding on the flat before reaching the finish line - that's why I think there will be a sprint finish. As far as I'm concerned I’ll be trying to make the most of any situation that arises during the race. I’m in good form. Earlier on in the week I tried out the Monte Serra ascent, finishing with a time of 15'55." Monte Serra (917 m) in Tuscany is a 6.3 km long climb, used by a number of Italian pro riders to test their performances.

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