Chris Horner (RadioShack) believes he has a more than realistic chance of cracking the top five at this year's Tour de France and hasn't given up on a podium place. The American finished 10th in last year's race despite having to ride as a domestique for Lance Armstrong but he burst through as a truly legitimate top five contender after his win at the Amgen Tour of California.
"On my day there's no one that can drop me other than Contador and Schleck in July but other than that I'm not afraid of any climbers. On my day I'm one of the best climbers out there," Horner told Cyclingnews before the race.
"Last year I finished 10th and this year I'm in even better form so I'm looking to go top five and maybe even shoot for the podium which I think is doable. But you have to get through the first week and avoid injuries and then by the time you get to the second day in the mountains I'll know where my form is at."
RadioShack come into the race with four potential leaders for GC. Horner doesn't believe that such an ambition is a weakness and that the second day of the mountains will decide who the strongest rider in the team is.
"We're coming in with four strong guys and a lot of help with five climbers and lot of help for the flat. We're a good team and we want to put on a show here," he said.
"We got four riders, we've had Kloden winning the Basque country, me winning the Tour of California and Levi Leipheimer right up there too. We've got Jani coming in and I'm sure he'll be in incredible form and we'll know where we stand as a team after the first set of mountains. We've got four guys who will be protected."
"We've still got to have someone up there but if we can get four guys in the top ten or top 15 then certainly. We've got guys that can do that. We're coming in with a super strong team this year and one of the favourites teams."
Yet despite such strength in numbers, Horner is aware that if on the form from 2010 Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck will determine the final outcome of the yellow jersey in Paris.
"We still don't have a favourite rider though because it's still going to be between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador."
"If you look at the way Suisse was raced you've got to question where Andy's form is at and Alberto has come from the Giro but he's never been beaten in a grand tour but everyone has to be asking the same questions over Andy's form."
"Something has to change if you want to break those two up from hogging the top two places. Either there has to be a crash an injury or someone has to drop their chain. It's undeniable though that they're the two fastest in the race from last July and you always have to go with what's on paper not what could happen in the future."