Jan Ullrich insisted he will return to peak form in time to threaten Lance Armstrong's hopes of a sixth Tour de France title this summer.
The German rider has had an indifferent start to the season, unlike his American rival who finished third in the Criterium International.
But Ullrich told the French newspaper L'Equipe: "Why should we follow the same paths before the Tour?
"I want to take my time to make it back at my best level."
Ullrich won the Tour in 1997 but since then he has had to settle for second place five times.
The 30-year-old, who is taking part in the Circuit de la Sarthe, says his first real test of the season will come in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic next month.
"All my training is based on the Tour so that I can start it at my very best this time," said Ullrich.
"I'm relieved that I had no health problems in the winter, except a sore throat. It is worth mentioning because it's