Sergio Henao will spearhead Team Sky's assault on Paris-Nice, starting on Sunday March 5

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Colombian Sergio Henao will lead Team Sky in Paris-Nice (March 5-12), with Dutch rider Wout Poels forced to withdraw from the start list due to injury.

It will be the first race for Henao in his Colombian national championships jersey, having recently claimed his home road race title.

Henao will seek to retain the 2016 Paris-Nice title won by Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas. Thomas is absent from the race as he focuses on preparing for a tilt at the Giro d’Italia in May. Henao placed sixth overall behind Thomas last year.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) – runner-up in 2016 – is likely to provide the biggest challenge to Henao overall.

Poels would have provided a strong presence for Sky in the eight-day WorldTour-level French race, but a niggling knee injury has ruled him out.

>>> Paris-Nice 2017: Latest news, info, start list and TV guide

Poels told Dutch cycling website WielerFlits that he has been suffering from the injury since the last stage of the Ruta del Sol.

“It is preventing me from performing my workouts normally. So I am taking it easy,” said Poels. “I didn’t fall, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on. We’re going to find out.”

Frenchman Kenny Elissonde is a strong addition to the team after an impressive season debut for Sky in Australia, where he placed third overall in the Herald Sun Tour.

Welshman Luke Rowe is also named in the Paris-Nice roster, fresh from his opening weekend of the cobbled classics in Belgium, where he placed sixth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and third in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Philip Deignan, Christian Knees, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve and sprinter Danny van Poppel complete the eight-man team.

Prior to the start of Paris-Nice on Sunday, Sky has also named its roster for Strade Bianche in Italy on Saturday, March 4. Former winner Michal Kwiatkowski, Ian Boswell, Owain Doull, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Michal Golas, Gianni Moscon, Salvatore Puccio and Diego Rosa will tackle the white roads in Tuscany.