Lance Armstrong clearly sees Jan Ullrich as his closest challenger for a fifth consecutive Tour victory.
Best Tour: Winner - 1997
The German won the event back in 1997 and has since been Armstrong's nearest contender.
It remains to be seen what physical and mental state Ullrich is in when it comes to the mountains.
There is no denying the German is an extremely talented cyclist. He was second to team-mate and team leader Bjarne Riis in 1996 before going one better in 1997.
He has since played the role of bridesmaid except for last year when he was banned after testing positive for amphetamines.
Ullrich has also suffered from a host of injuries and has tried to get himself back into shape to compete with Armstrong.
Signs indicate he is getting back into shape. Armstrong went as far as to say Ullrich "was looking stronger than ever" recently.
But his preparations are unlikely to be helped by the problems at Team Bianchi, formerly Team Coast.
He joined Coast at the start of the season in a big-money move from Telekom only for financial problems to cause the sponsors to pull out. Ullrich started looking for a new team before Bianchi bought out the team.
He looks to have the necessary back-up to at least challenge for the podium.
Armstrong on Ullrich: "He did not have an ideal time in spring with all the
problems with his team but he looked in better condition than ever. He's still one of the strongest riders in the bunch and I must take him seriously."