I'm counting down to my next race which means it's time for another blog. Tirreno - Adriatico is always a good gauge of your form, especially before the Classics and I'm really looking forward to it.
I haven't checked out the stages too much yet. I've had a good period through Oman and training here afterwards. I went to Lugano and unfortunately it was snowed out there so we didn't get to race but looking at Tirreno, it's always good racing. There are a lot of GC guys going this year so it could be quite a hard race.
This will be the second year in a row that I've done Tirreno over Paris - Nice and while the latter is a great race, I think there's a bit more uncertainty in the weather there. Hopefully Tirreno is kind to us and a bit nicer but it also makes life between that and Milan - San Remo a bit easier. If you race Paris-Nice, you finish on the Sunday and then you've got a week so you have to find a couple of days to do some really good rides and this time of year, the weather can be a bit average. In 2011 before I won San Remo I ended up going out training for four, four-and-a-half hours in the rain which isn't ideal - I got sick just after I won. With Tirreno you race, recover and then race on the weekend so it's a better gap. The other factor that works in Tirreno's favour, at least from where I'm standing, is that the stages are a bit more technical, so it gets you ready for what's coming in Belgium.
So yes, Milan - San Remo is once again a race I'll be targeting. I can usually have a good result there. Even last year I had two courses of anti-biotics in the week before it and I still got to the finish. Unfortunately it split on the descent, or fortunately for my teammate Simon Gerrans, and I wasn't racing for the win but I still finishing in the top 15. When things going well I can be around the mark there but when things work out perfectly or really well, then Milan - San Remo is a race I can win.
Last year at Tirreno, Orica GreenEdge won the team time trial in pretty impressive fashion and we're definitely motivated for the same result this time around. We're going to be heading down there a with a strong team a couple of days early for some training and to make sure we're all working well together. Tirreno is a big goal for me; it was great for me to have the leader's jersey there for a few days last year and for the team to get our first win in Europe. Sure, it won't be our first win in Europe this year but we're just as motivated to try and kick off the season in the right way.
After Milan - San Remo I'll be heading to Belgium and do Gent - Wevelgem the next weekend. At the moment I'm still down for Flanders and Roubaix but I'll need to assess those as we get a little bit closer. The Giro is a big goal of mine and Flanders is now quite difficult with the changes to the course. If I don't think I can be in the front group there going for the finish I think it's better off putting someone else in who can help somebody like Sebastian Langeveld. Roubaix is a race that I'd like to do, even if I can't win it this year, it's a race you want to get experience in. When the time comes, and I hope it will one day, I want that experience in the bunch at the finish.