THE impressive strength of the field contesting Tasmania's Christmas criterium series has been reinforced with the recruitment of a second world champion in as many days.
Just 24 hours after Jack Bobridge signed up, his compatriot and former Orica GreenEDGE teammate Matt Goss has announced a return to racing in his home state.
Launceston's former track world champion, whose successful conversion to road racing has seen him win the 2011 Milan-San Remo Classic plus a silver medal at that year's world championships, announced he will contest the Latrobe and Devonport criteriums.
``I like the way the carnivals are progressing this year, especially with the introduction of crits at Latrobe, Devonport and Burnie,'' said Goss, who contacted carnivals promotions director John Craven and requested a wild card entry.
``It's a great idea. It's the right time of the year to be running them. They will be raced with a lot of intensity.''
Goss, one of the few cyclists to win stages of the Grand Tours of Italy, Spain and France (this year's team time trial), said he was unable to ride the Burnie criterium on New Year's Eve because of personal commitments.
``I'll have a bit of a hit-out at Latrobe and Devonport and I'd like to think I could win one of them,'' Goss said.
``I'm doing the Bay Crits in January and thought this would provide some good intensity beforehand.''
Six years after last featuring in the carnivals series, the former Launceston and Latrobe Wheel winner said he was delighted to be facing some familiar faces.
``It's always fun to race with guys you train with each day and we'll all want to beat each other.''
The 27-year-old has a year left on his GreenEDGE contract and is hoping for a productive season as the team's leading sprinter with an individual Tour de France stage victory high among his priorities after a glut of second and third-place finishes.
``Winning the team time trial at the Tour de France was this year's undoubted highlight. It's a bit of a dream for everyone who turns pro to be up there on top of that podium and to be there with nine mates was a great way to do that.''
Cycling Tasmania president and Latrobe Cycling Club vice-president Noel Pearce said he was thrilled that Goss would contest the opening two criteriums.
``The Latrobe criterium in particular will be a world-class international event,'' Pearce said.
``It's an amazing high calibre field with the likes of Jack Bobridge, Matt Goss, the Sulzbergers, Glenn O'Shea, Will Clarke, Ben Grenda, Nathan Earle and six Olympic medallists in the line-up.''
The 42km Latrobe criterium starts at 6pm in Gilbert Street on Boxing Day. The event will cover 20 laps of a 2.1km circuit of Bradshaw, Cotton, Stanley and Gilbert streets.
The 40km Devonport criterium will start at midday on Sunday, December 29, in Bluff Road and will cover 20 laps of a 2km circuit around William, North, Clements, James, North Fenton streets and Bluff Road.
Burnie's 24km grand finale criterium kicks off at 6pm on New Year's Eve, taking in 30 laps of a fast and furious 800-metre circuit around North Terrace, Mount Street, Wilmot Street and Marine Terrace.