Bradley Wiggins has never won the Tour de France but he is in a unique place for a Briton - being the favourite to finish first in cycling's top event in three weeks' time in Paris.
The Team Sky leader has won three of the major stage races on the 2012 calendar - Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine - but said it had just been a long preparation for his goal to become the first Briton to win the sport's showcase event.
Just hours from the start of potentially the most important three weeks of his career, Wiggins said: "I don't think I have ever been this good. All the stuff we have been doing this week suggests I'm in the form of my life."
Wiggins said he was ready physically and emotionally too.
"I just happened to win three of the major stage races in cycling but those races are invaluable because we know exactly where we, we know exactly what the team has to do. We had so much practice within this year and as I said a few times in Dauphine leading a race now isn't as an emotional toll on me as it was last year in the Dauphine and that only from leading. You can't ride around Lancashire with a yellow jersey on and get that same experience as doing it in a bike race. So yes, this comes with that."
Wiggins said his preparations on the road had been much the same as on the track.
"There are more variables but the fundamental things are the same in terms of giving power in a weight, giving you this speed on a climb which is all we worked towards and obviously the time-trialing is where I really improved this year is a very quantifiable as well so it's a... There are a lot more variables as you said in a win, conditions, crashes, this that and the other but you can't control those things. That's just... Controlling the things you can control and not worrying too much about all the other things," Wiggins said.
One of the hardest things to control is hard luck. Last year Wiggins was forced out of the Tour when he crashed in the seventh stage to Chateauroux as the jittery peloton rode at a furious pace to try and gain the best positions.
For Wiggins, taking part in the tour at that level is like a dream come true.
"It's all I ever dreamed of as a kid you know. I wanted to be at this level of cycling since I was 12 years of age. In England every childhood's dream is to lift the FA Cup at Wembley or wherever. This is like my Wembley," Wiggins said.
The 99th edition kicks off on Saturday with a 6.4-km prologue where Wiggins will be one of the favourites.
source: newshub archive