Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) will test his form for the rapidly approaching Tour de France at next week's Critérium Dauphiné and is confident he can take on Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins in July.
The Spaniard will return to the Critérium Dauphiné and the Tour de France for the first time since completing his ban for doping in 2012. He beat Froome to win the Vuelta Espana last September, but was beaten by Froome at the Tour of Oman and at Tirreno-Adriatico this year.
Contador has not raced since Liege-Bastogne-Liege and did not seem at his best in the spring. However, after a month of training, much of it at his new base in Lugano in Switzerland, he is confident for the Tour de France, the big goal of his 2013 season.
"My forms improving and if my legs feel good, I'm not scared of Froome or Wiggins," Contador told the Cadena Sur radio station.
"Froome has been performing amazingly well in the last two years. He has a great chance to win a Grand Tour if the team works for him. It means he has a lot of responsibility, but he's having a good year and the results are going his way."
Contador is convinced that Wiggins will ride the Tour de France, despite the British rider's troubles at the Giro d'Italia.
"I think that Wiggins is going to ride the Tour. As last year's winner, I'd guess he wants to be there," Contador said. "I'm sure that if he rides, he'll be 99% at his best, especially after climbing off so early in the Giro."
Ready for the Critérium Dauphiné
The Critérium Dauphiné will see Contador up against Froome, with Wiggins also a possible starter in the Team Sky line-up. Contador spent last week training in the French Alps and is on form for the especially mountainous edition of the Critérium Dauphiné.
"I'm ready for a good Dauphine," he said. "It'll be a very different race to last year. There were a lot time trials, this time there's only 30km and it includes a climb, so it won’t be as decisive. There are also four mountain finishes which suit me."
"Yeah, I'm living near Lugano and I spend most of my time there. My teammates Rogers, Paulinho, Zaugg and Hernandez also live nearby and so I can train well, under the eyes of Bjarne Riis, who also lives in Lugano."
Cadena Sur pushed Contador on a possible return to the Vuelta this year. Last year his ban stopped meant the Vuelta was the only Grand Tour of his season. The Tour is likely to be his only three-week stage race this year if things go well.
"I'd like to ride and defend my title but it's a decision I'll only take after the Tour. It wouldn't make sense to ride just to take part," he said.