Jan Ullrich is set to sacrifice victory in the Tour of Switzerland to boost his chances of denying Lance Armstrong a record seventh Tour de France crown.
Ullrich is desperate to realise his dream of winning a second Tour de France
Ullrich begins his defence of the Swiss stage race in Schaffhausen on Saturday.
But the German has ruled out a re-run of last year's heroics in the event as he has made overhauling rival Armstrong in July's Tour his main aim of 2005.
"Repeating my victory is not on my mind, it's all about a measured build-up to the Tour," he said.
Ullrich, 31, won the Tour de France in 1997 but has since finished runner-up to Armstrong three times.
Last year, as the American powered his way to a landmark sixth victory in Paris, Ullrich was forced off the podium into fourth for the first time in his Tour career.
The T-Mobile star has also struggled with weight problems.
But Ullrich believes he is in better shape for this summer's gruelling tussle with the Texan, who will be looking for one more victory before retirement.
"I'm convinced that I am a bit further ahead compared to the same time in previous years," Ullrich said.
"I still have about three pounds to lose but that's intended.
"Now I must race again in order to achieve a fine cross section of fitness. That means I must convert the strength I have into speed."
The nine stages of the 69th edition of the mountainous Tour of Switzerland will certainly give Ullrich a chance to boost his fitness and compare his form against other Tour contenders such as Paris-Nice winner Bobby Julich.
"These stages will give me a chance to test my climbing form and I want to be in front on at least one or two," Ullrich said.