Ivan Basso improves year by year and the stats show 2004 looks no different.
Best Tour: 2003 - seventh place
He has hardly taken the cycling classics by storm ahead of the Tour, but made his mark with eighth at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege - his best yet.
But last season was his best Tour effort to date, in which he finished an impressive seventh place, just behind Spaniard Iban Mayo.
A year before, he had been 11th - 20 minutes behind Lance Armstrong. In 2003, he was just 10 minutes back.
He looks to have the complete package for winning the race and, in the process, become the first Italian since the now deceased Marco Pantani in 1998 to end up on the Champs Elysee with the winner's yellow jersey.
He has once again kept his racing days to a minimum in 2004, with his sole focus being firmly on the Tour, thus washing his hands of his home event the Giro d'Italia.
Basso is also a former white jersey winner - dished out to the best young rider during the Tour.