'Wiggins data no guarantee for victory'
Yellow jersey champion Cadel Evans has dismissed the importance of physiological data concerning Tour de France rival and race favourite Bradley Wiggins.
Wiggins, a three-time Olympic track champion, has emerged as the big favourite for this year's race and begins Saturday's opening prologue in the hope of becoming Britain's first Tour de France champion.
A favourable route which includes two long time trials, the absence of rivals like Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck and an impressive year of racing and winning major stage races all conspire to make Wiggins the odds-on favourite.
The Briton, who beat Evans into third place on his way to defending his Criterium du Dauphine title two weeks ago, couldn't be more confident.
"I'm better than I've ever been. And if that makes me one of the favourites, then fantastic," said the Team Sky leader.
Asked to comment on the Londoner's claims that data from physiological tests show him to be in the form of his life, Evans quipped: "It would be interesting to see his data wouldn't it?
"We'll see, we'll see on the results sheet in Paris."
Evans, a former two-time runner-up, endured several drama-filled campaigns on the race before finally securing the yellow jersey ahead of Schleck last year.
A mediocre season so far -- due to illness in January and the time he spent with his wife completing the adoption of a baby boy from Ethiopia -- means he comes in slightly under the radar.
"Most of all this year, I've had a quiet start to the season. I've had a few victories and some good results but I had a few health problems that slowed me down where people expected me to be better," he said Friday.
In recent months, however, Evans has gone back to the business of defending his title.
Along with competing, he has spent many hours working on his time trial and previewing some of the key mountain stages on this year's race.
A previous four-time runner-up at the Criterium du Dauphine, a major tune-up for the Tour de France, he eventually finished third overall, 1min 26sec behind Wiggins.
Despite the less-than-perfect season he has had so far, the 35-year-old appears buoyant about his chances.
"In the past few months I've progressed well, had good periods of training and good periods of racing," he added.
"Looking at the overall at the Dauphine, with a view to the Tour, they were good results. From here on in it's all systems go."
With Sky now one of the strongest teams in this year's race, Evans knows his BMC will be put to the test.
But having played a major role in hand-picking the eight riders who will accompany his bid, he is confident BMC – who were omnipresent at the front of the peloton throughout last year's race – can take on the fight.
"Sky have really lifted their level," said Evans.
"I've never gone head to head with Wiggins on a three-week Tour, so I guess we'll be in for a good battle."
He added: "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.
"We've prepared well -- everyone as a team and personally as well I'm coming into my top level at the right time.
"We look forward to the race and a good battle over the next three weeks."