It’s a huge honour to be a member of a big team, but it’s even better to be selected by the big teams for the best races.

There wasn’t any doubt about Robert Hunter leading Phonak on the roads of Paris-Nice, the first Pro Tour event to be held next week (March 6 to 10), but it’s now sure that South Africa’s second Pro Tour rider, Ian McLeod, will also make his grand debut with his French team Française des Jeux on Sunday in the 4km time trial prologue in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris - in front of the Tour de France organisation headquarters.

"I’m extremely excited because I’ve heard so much about Paris-Nice during our recent training camp, it must be something special," McLeod said after paying a futile visit to Belgium this week with the GP Samyn in Fayt-le-Franc cancelled on Wednesday due to snowy weather conditions.

McLeod’s team will be led at Paris-Nice by young Swedish prodigee Thomas Lövkvist and Belgian all-rounder and Tour du Haut-Var winner, Philippe Gilbert. Alongside them a French speaking group will line up consisting of Freddy Bichot, Christophe Detilloux, Frédéric Finot, Fabien Sanchez and Benoît Vaugrenard.

FDJ has chosen to take part in this event without any sprinter while Phonak will count on Hunter’s speed with the help of Nicolas Jalabert, Floyd Landis, Alexander Moos, Victor Hugo Pena, Miguel Angel Perdiguero and Tadej Valjavec.