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Martin confirmed with Quick-Step; no word on Leipheimer

Quick-Step confirmed Thursday that Tony Martin, the German time trial specialist, will join the Belgian squad as part of a three-year deal.

There was no official confirmation of reports that Levi Leipheimer was set to move to the Belgian squad as well. Leipheimer told VeloNews in an e-mail Wednesday that he would not comment on his future until everything was finalized.

Martin was one of the most highly sought after riders coming out of the HTC-Highroad, which closes at the end of the 2011 season.

Martin, 26, will bring new heft to the Belgian team’s time trial abilities. Martin won the long, 47km TT at the Vuelta a España this week.

“We’re happy with the agreement we reached,” said Patrick Lefevere in a team release. “Martin is a highly valuable athlete, a world-class cyclist who actually holds 12th place in the World Tour rankings. His arrival will allow us to face time trial tests with new ambition; and considering his fantastic athletic potential, he’ll also have more to give in other areas. He’ll also someone who all the young riders on our team can look up to.”

Martin said this week that he has given up on the idea of trying to develop into a three-week, grand tour stage racer. Instead, he will focus on the big time trials during the calendar as well as one-week races, such as Paris-Nice, which he won this year.

“I’m pleased to be riding with such a prestigious team,” Martin said in a team release. “Thanks to team Highroad I had a wonderful experience and I grew professionally on one of the best teams in the world. Now it’s time for me to take the next step in my career, as I’m aiming to meet new prestigious objectives. I’m still young and on this team there are all the prerequisites to open an important cycle and assume a major role on the front lines.”

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