Yellow jersey triumph is history - Evans
Australia's Cadel Evans has consigned the happy memories of his maiden Tour de France triumph to the history books as he prepares to defend his title on Saturday.
With two long time trials on stages nine (41.5 km) and 19 (53.5 km), the BMC team leader is set to face a formidable challenge from on-form Briton Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky.
Wiggins, a fourth place finisher in 2009, rebounded in style from his early exit last year when he suffered a broken collarbone by posting a series of impressive results in major stage races.
A third place finish at the 2011 Tour of Spain was followed by victory at Paris-Nice in March and he followed up by winning the Tour of Romandie then successfully defending his Criterium du Dauphine title earlier this month.
Evans, by contrast, has had a less successful season but the Australian said he has not been resting on his laurels.
"I've had a bit of a quiet start to the 2012 season, but that's okay. I've got a lot of racing to come in July, and after July as well," said Evans.
"It's been a good few months leading into here, I've avoided health problems and so on so we're ready."
And the Australian has put the satisfaction of last year's triumph to the back of his mind and followed a training regime designed to make him peak for the crucial third week of this year's race.
Coupled with the same, disciplined approach that BMC employed last year, Evans is hoping to become the first man to successfully defend the title since Lance Armstrong in 2005.
"It's still satisfying to think that we did it in 2011. But that's history now, and we're looking to ultimately repeat in 2012," added the Australian.
"We've come here with a stronger team and, having done it once, we know we can do it so I think we come here more convinced, more confident and most of all we're well prepared and ready.
"When you've had one in the bag it's there, but now it's history, now I look forward to the future and to 2012.
"We've prepared well – everyone as a team and personally as well I'm coming into my top level at the right time.
"For me personally, we'll probably ride with a similar race plan and same mentality as we had last year.
"We look forward to the race and a good battle over the next three weeks."
Along with BMC, Wiggins' Sky team are one of the strongest in the race and will look to use those strengths to keep their respective leaders protected, out of the wind and free of the kind of mishap that can end their races early.
Evans's previous bids for the yellow jersey – he is a two-time runner-up – have been hampered by crashes in previous campaigns.
And after last year, when several contenders, including Wiggins, and outsiders crashed out of the race, he knows only too well how unforgiving the Tour can be.
"They all tell me Wiggins is the man to beat, but we'll see out on the road. Three weeks is a long time and a lot can happen," he said.