Cadel Evans (BMC) has said that he arrives at this year's Tour de France fresher than he did twelve months ago. In 2010, the Australian rode to 5th place in the Giro d'Italia before travelling to the Tour, but this season he has carefully limited his racing days.
"Up to now 2011 has gone as predicted. Better than predicted, in fact," Evans told L'Équipe. "I feel well-prepared for July and fresher than the last couple of seasons. My team is stronger, motivated and confident."
While Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck are widely fancied to occupy the top two steps of the podium in Paris, Evans is certainly not giving any quarter before the race begins on Saturday.
"I'm not going to ride for second place," he said. "You don't win by starting off looking for second place."
Evans' last race before the Tour was the Critérium du Dauphiné in early June, and he was impressed by the performance of winner Bradley Wiggins. "You mustn't underestimate Sky and Wiggins," Evans warned.
Since his second place finish at the Dauphiné, Evans emphasised recovery during his final Tour tune-up in the company of teammate Steve Morabito.
"The Dauphiné was very hard this year, so I tried to recuperate well," he said. "Afterwards, I went on a training camp with Steve Morabito, a mechanic and a masseur from the team."
While Evans is committed to BMC for the foreseeable future, he welcomed the arrival of the GreenEDGE team to the peloton. The new Australian outfit is set to debut in 2012 with big ambitions.
"I'd be proud to see an Australian team at the start of the Tour. When you see all the Australian riders in the peloton, you can't but be happy about the project," Evans said, before joking, "So long as they don't sign Contador, I won't bear any animosity towards that team."