LAUNCESTON cyclist Matthew Goss hopes to use a week-long venture across Italy to help him regain the country's most prestigious one-day race.
The 26-year-old is riding the seven-stage Tirreno- Adriatico, which began overnight with a 16.9-kilometre team time trial from San Vincenzo that Goss's Orica- GreenEdge outfit claimed last year to place him in the leader's jersey.
However, an illness-free Goss said the bigger picture was to pave the way for a tilt at regaining his Milan-San Remo crown which is why he opted not to join fellow Tasmanian Richie Porte in this week's Paris-Nice.
Tirreno features a daunting five consecutive day stages of 232km, 190km, 173km, 230km and 209km.
"Tirreno-Adriatico is always a good gauge of your form, especially before the Classics and I'm really looking forward to it," Goss said.
"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, 4 1/2 hours in the rain which isn't ideal and I got sick after I won."
Goss, whose compatriot and teammate Simon Gerrans claimed his San Remo title last year, said the recovery program following Tirreno better suited his prospects for the classic and its northern cousins including Ghent-Wevelgem the following weekend, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Monaco-based Goss, who will have Daryl Impey and Brett Lancaster among a strong lead-out train in Italy, said that he was a strong chance in San Remo.
"I know that if everything goes well, if I don't get sick, then there's a really good chance I'm going to be at the front, and if I am at the front, the finish is perfect for me. It's going to be a small group and it's going to be a sprint so it's a race that I really target every year."
Goss's former HTC- Highroad teammate, 2009 champion Mark Cavendish, 2010 runner-up Tom Boonen, powerful German Andre Greipel and reigning Tour de France green jersey champion Peter Sagan head a formidable field for the Monument race.
Goss said the Giro d'Italia - a grand tour - remained a major goal.