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Photo: Maximiliano Blanco/Getty Images (File).

Defending champ Soler will return to Paris-Nice with Quintana

Movistar's Nairo Quintana will make his European season debut at Paris-Nice Sunday alongside defending champ Marc Soler.

About one year ago, Marc Soler pulled off the biggest win of his young career, beating Simon Yates by just four seconds to claim the overall at Paris-Nice.

The 25-year-old Spaniard is heading back to France to defend his title, and for 2019, he’ll be joined by Movistar’s ace climber Nairo Quintana.

In 2018, Soler won the yellow jersey on Paris-Nice’s eighth and final stage. He was third, taking 35 seconds out of Yates’s overall lead.

That same short, explosive, 110-kilometer stage is again part of the route in 2018. The race runs March 10-18.

So far this season, Soler’s only race start has been the Colombia 2.1 stage race in Feburary. Quintana’s schedule has been similarly light. He too raced in Colombia, where he won stage 6, the race’s final day. Prior to that he raced Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina.

Quintana is also the winner of the 2016 Vuelta a España and 2014 Giro d’Italia.

This season, he is once again focused on the Tour de France.

“I still think I have a Tour [de France] in my legs,” said Quintana at the end of 2018. “The big goal for 2019 will be to pull off a big win.”

The Colombian hasn’t raced Paris-Nice since 2013, the year of his breakthrough stage win at the Tour in stage 20.

Movistar’s two leaders will ride with support from climbers Winner Anacona and Rafael Valls.

Movistar Team for Paris-Nice 2019

Marc Soler (Sp)
Nairo Quintana (Col)
Winner Anacona (Col)
Hector Carretero (Sp)
Imanol Erviti (Sp)
Jürgen Roelandts (B)
Rafael Valls (Sp)