Primož Roglič has attempted to downplay expectations, saying that people should not view him as the most likely rider to win the Tour de France.
The Slovenian star was in touching distance of triumphing at the 2020 edition until he was beaten to the yellow jersey in the final time trial to his compatriot Tadej Pogačar in dramatic scenes.
Roglič later won the Vuelta a España and this spring claimed the Tour of the Basque Country GC, and also won three stages at Paris-Nice.
But the 31-year-old has opted for a relatively race-free schedule in his build-up to the Tour, not racing since April’s Ardennes Classics and instead training, including at altitude camps in the Sierra Nevada.
His rival Pogačar returned to racing by winning last week’s Tour of Slovenia, and the narrative is written that this year’s race - that starts on June 26 - will be another battle between the pair.
The Jumbo-Visma man doesn’t subscribe to such opinion, however, citing the form of Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and other general classification riders as evidence that the race will be closer than many think.
“I wouldn’t even place myself, I don’t consider myself as the favourite,” he told RMC Sport in France.
“I am not the defending champion. I haven’t raced for a while so I will go there and see how it goes.
“And I always repeat now that it’s a new year, there are a lot of guys who are super-strong and are capable of winning.
“It’s not just a fight between me and Tadej. You have 20 other guys. We need to go there, do our best with our guys and see what it means with the result."
Asked about the disappointment in ceding yellow to Pogačar last September, Roglič was pragmatic.
“Last year’s result in the end… for sure, looking at what we had we all thought we could finish it off and win it, but on the other hand second was still a super-nice result.”
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1