Thor Hushovd believes the Tour de France's green jersey competition will be decided by the end of the week.
Hushovd, who lost out in the prize for the Tour's best sprinter to rival Robbie McEwen last year, is among the favourites to win it this time.
The Norwegian powerhouse said: "You have to win at least one stage in the first week of the race.
"With the way the route is this year, the points competition might be decided by the time we get into Germany."
The first stage on German soil this year is Friday's seventh stage into Karlsruhe, only one third into the race.
Hushovd explained: "For one thing, to win the green jersey, you have to be really confident and strong, and win as soon as you can.
"When it comes to the Alps it's almost over. We have a flat stage between the Alps and the Pyrenees where it's normally a breakaway rider who wins it.
"After the Pyrenees we have a few hilly stages which will also pave the way for breakaways. But if you want to win the jersey you have to get as many points as possible straight away.
"So as sprinters we have to be on top of our game straight away."
As one of the bulkier sprinters, arguably Hushovd's strength is in the intermediate sprints dotted throughout a stage but he also consistently finishes in the points.
He has finished second, third and ninth in the sprints on the Tour to date but is already 29 points behind Tom Boonen in the race for the green jersey.
The 27-year-old Hushovd, who looks the only candidate in the Credit Agricole team capable of winning a major jersey this year, believes Boonen is not the sole rider standing in his way of the points jersey.
"There's not a great number of sprinters out there, particularly with Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi not at the race this year," he added.
"The main three threats to the green jersey are myself, Boonen and Robbie McEwen. But there are other bets, among them Stuart O'Grady and Baden Cooke who are both approaching good form."
This year, Hushovd's team have taken a gamble in switching his lead-out man from Damian Nazon to Estonian rider Jaan Kirsipuu, who Hushovd has remarkably never ridden with.
But the Scandanavian speedstar said: "Damian did a good job but now I have Jaan Kirsipuu. Hopefully he'll do any even better job.
"We didn't actually manage to ride together before the Tour because he's done a different programme to me. But we'll click at the race."