SIMON Yates begins his bid for back-to-back Tirreno-Adriatico titles today as he continues his build-up to the Giro d’Italia.

Bury’s 2018 Vuelta a España winner won last year’s major Italian week-long stage race, considered an important step on the road to the Giro and the quest for the iconic pink jersey.

Finishing next Tuesday, it will be Yates’ second outing of the season having had a minor crash when his campaign begun at the weekend.

”I’m going ok,” said the Team BikeExchange rider. “I had a small crash in Strade Bianche, nothing too serious but we are taking everything very consciously and calmly.

“I hope to arrive in Tirreno ready to go and hopefully I can do a good performance.

“It looks like a very classic route, from what I can see, you have sprint stages and a summit finish.

“It’s not a climb that I know, but I have seen the videos of it in the past, and hopefully I can do a good ride there.

“As always, the last stage time trial and it will be a good to test myself against the clock and just to see where the form is.

“Compared to last year, it’s just a little bit different where I am in my preparation.

“Last year Tirreno was the final race before the Giro d’Italia and this year I have some more time to prepare.

“This year is more like a building block, a step towards my main goal which is the Giro, but of course I’d still like to do a good ride and hopefully put on a good performance.”

The 56th edition of the Tirreno-Adriatico serves up a classic parcours with a first uphill finish coming on the second day.

Stage four should see the first general classification showdown, with two lumpy stage to follow before the traditional short, flat time trial to conclude the seven days.

Yates’ Team BikeExchange head sport director Matthew White said: “Tirreno has always been a good hunting ground for the team.

“The team’s first European win was achieved here 10 years ago and we have continued that success in recent times with Adam Yates and last year Simon Yates who returns as defending champion.

“It’s the start of Simon’s Giro preparation and we are excited to be back at such a beautiful race and we intend to challenge for victory in what has to be the best start list in the race’s history.”

Yates is being backed to shine at the Giro this year having impressed at the Italian Grand Tour in years gone by.

In 2018 he led for most of the race before falling down the general classification as Chris Froome took victory.

After his Tirreno-Adriatico victory hopes were high last year but after losing time he then tested positive for Covid-19 which brought an end to his challenge.