Well that's my final training ride of week in the bag and now it's time to pack and head out the door for my next race. Up next is Tirreno-Adriatico, which starts on Wednesday with a 16.9 kilometre time trial between Donoratico and San Vincenzo.
It's a race I've never done before, and at 29, I'm excited to be going there to race for the win. No doubt it will be tough one, with a stellar field, and tough parcour but I'm confident that I can challenge for top honours.
I know there's been a lot of discussion about shifting from Paris-Nice to Tirreno but when it was confirmed that Froomie couldn't ride the race due to a small back injury the team and I had a chat about whether I should swap programmes and head to Italy.
Straight away I was interested in the idea and there were a number of reasons. Firstly, Paris-Nice isn't really an ideal race for me this year and I know that leaves ASO a bit disappointed but from a purely performance point of view, if Chris isn't going to do Tirreno, then that's a much more favourable race for me. The new-look Paris-Nice that ASO has designed for this year looks exciting and I can understand their desire to improve the format but it's a case of horses for courses. If the route had been the same as last year I'm sure I would be racing there right now.
I've also done Paris-Nice a few times now and to be honest, I've wanted to look at Tirreno for a while now. I've read Christian Prudhomme's comments and I've taken them on board. And look, he's a great man, and he's in charge of great races and in no way was this decision meant to be seen as disrespecting him or ASO. As it stands we have Geraint [Thomas] at the race and I think he has a great chance of making the podium. He and the team are racing well there and Geraint has already picked up some time bonuses on the first stage. If he can keep out of trouble, follow the right moves, then I'm sure he can make an impression. He avoided the first split on stage 1 so he's well in contention, so good luck to him and the rest of the boys.
Back to Tirreno, and the race should also offer me with the chance to test myself on Italian roads and of course see a number of the riders I'll be competing against in May at the Giro d'Italia. I'm here to win though and I think I've got chances with the team time trial, the individual test and then the main uphill finish.
In general, my form is ticking along nicely at the moment. I wasn't 100 per cent at Tour Down Under in January but I managed to win the Willunga stage, which I'm really proud of, and I showed off the team jersey as best I could. A podium spot was nice reward for the winter training I'd put in and a good base to start the year on.
From there I came back to Europe for the first time this year and raced Ruta del Sol. That's a brutal race, really tough, but I picked up second overall and at this stage in the season I have to be happy with the way things are going.
Obviously my biggest goal for the season is a couple of months away with the Giro d'Italia. Each race is a stepping stone towards the start in Belfast and Tirreno is the next step on that path.
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