Martin: Paris-Nice route is not ideal for me

Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) lines up at Paris-Nice on Sunday as defending champion, but the German insists that the 2012 course is not best-suited to his characteristics.

Twelve months ago, Martin used the flat time trial around Aix-en-Provence as the springboard to overall victory, but this time around, the main time trial is the short uphill test on the Col d’Eze on the final day.

“It’s always very difficult to repeat a victory, especially as the course isn’t ideal for me, with two short time trials,” Martin told the DPA news agency. “But my form is good, and we have a strong team, and between me, Leipheimer and Chavanel, there are a lot of tactical options.”

While Omega Pharma-QuickStep has enjoyed a remarkable run of early-season victories, Martin is still waiting to get off the mark for 2012. He showed flashes of his form at the Volta ao Algarve in February, but finished second behind Richie Porte after losing out in the time trial to his Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins.

After wresting the world time trial crown from Fabian Cancellara last autumn, however, Martin was widely tipped to take the yellow jersey on the first day of the Tour de France, but he was quick to downplay the idea that victory in the Paris-Nice prologue would augur well for July.

“They are two very different things,” Martin said. “The circumstances and the pressure of the Tour are much greater.”

During his time at HTC-Highroad, Martin was an integral part of Mark Cavendish’s lead-out train. In spite of his lofty status at his new team, he aims to repeat the feat for Tom Boonen in the coming week.

“To prevent falls, it’s better to be at the front on flat stages anyway,” he pointed out. “So naturally, in so far as I can, I would like to help Tom.”

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