Wiggins ready for 'horrible' task
Bradley Wiggins is confident everything is in place for him to deliver on his status as the pre-race favourite and go on to win this year's Tour de France.
Wiggins, the Team Sky rider, is bidding to become the first ever British winner of the famous Tour, with defending champion Cadel Evans touted as his primary rival after Andy Schleck was forced to withdraw due to injury.
With Team Sky focusing on Wiggins' general classification bid as sprint king Mark Cavendish prioritises the forthcoming Olympic road race, Wiggins is confident everything is looking good for his chances in the event - which gets underway with a six-kilometre prologue in Belgium on Saturday.
"The team I've got, the way the guys in the team have been riding, the fact that Andy Schleck won't be at the Tour. All those factors add up and give you greater confidence and belief," Wiggins said.
"To be able to add your name to the list of people that have won it, it's like the ultimate sporting height really. It's the truest test of an athlete I think, the Tour, and that's why it's so appealing to so many people."
Wiggins' best finish in the race is fourth - tied for the best ever by a British cyclist with Robert Millar, who achieved the result back in 1984. The Scot believes it is a two-horse race, with resilience the primary characteristic required for the winner.
"It is between him and Evans," Millar told the Guardian. "The rest are nowhere. Evans climbs better but doesn't time trial as well. Tactically Evans is a little stronger but that doesn't matter so much now the riders use earpieces.
However, he warned: "There is no training manual for it. Compared to the Olympics it will be 10 times harder. The demands on him and his team will be at a different level."
Wiggins, however, seems aware and prepared for the challenge that awaits.
"It's not going to be pleasant, but it's what needs to be done," he said. "It's not going to be nice. In fact, it's going to be horrible."