Most of the world’s top sprinters use Tirreno-Adriatico to prepare for Milan-San Remo rather than its French stage race counterpart, Paris-Nice.

“In Paris-Nice you have that one week, six days afterwards where your body can start to shut down if you don’t do the right rides,” said Matt Goss when asked by Cycling Weekly. “You’re taking a gamble with weather and things. With this one, Tirreno, you finish, recover and race. I think it’s a more reliable approach to San Remo.”

Goss became the first cyclist last year to win San Remo after racing Paris-Nice since Andrei Tchmil in 1999. This year, for the first time, he is racing Tirreno-Adriatico with team GreenEdge. He wanted to do it before, but he was on the same HTC-Highroad team with Mark Cavendish and opted to compete elsewhere to increase his chances of winning. Last year, it paid off with a stage win in Paris-Nice.

Team Sky’s Cavendish explained that even with only two sprint stages, Tirreno-Adriatico remains the right path to San Remo with its mountains. As his former team-mate said, the climbing and short recovery time between the two races is ideal.

“I’ll get some training on the climbs,” said Cavendish. “It’s my final preparation for next week.”

Cavendish won San Remo in 2009 after taking victory in the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. San Remo is only four days later, where Paris-Nice ends on Sunday, six days before San Remo.

“It depends how you come through the week, if you come to the end of Tirreno and you are completely dead, there’s not enough time,” Tyler Farrar told Cycling Weekly. “If you get through it okay, tired but not completely empty, then its ideal.

“If they made an edition of Paris-Nice with a lot of sprints then I might have to re-think.”

Of the top sprinters, only Tom Boonen, Heinrich Haussler, Thor Hushovd and José Joaquin Rojas are racing in France. Peter Sagan of team Liquigas won one stage in Paris-Nice in 2010 and raced there again last year, but this time he is in Italy. The 22-year-old is not a pure sprinter, but a versatile rider who could sneak away with the San Remo win.

“The team is here, I think, because we’re an Italian and want to do well in Italy,” he told Cycling Weekly. “Maybe it’s better for San Remo because the race finishes later. Maybe it helps, but we’ll see after San Remo.”

Goss has the weight of defending champion on his shoulders. As such, he wants to see where he stands before next Saturday, March 17. He explained, “I wanted to come down here to try to have a sprint against the other sprinters.”

The sprinters will have their way in today’s leg to Arezzo and tomorrow’s to Terni. They will also keep an eye on Paris-Nice because, as Goss knows, it sometimes produces the big winner.

Tirreno-Adriatico 2012

Cavendish aims for San Remo win as World Champ

Stage one: GreenEdge take Tirreno-Adriatico opening team time trial

GreenEdge’s time trial practice pays off