The American came of age in some style through the Alps and Pyrenees during last year's race.
Best Tour: 2002 - 8th overall
The Rabobank team leader was inspired by a host of family members who watched him throughout the race on French soil.
What resulted were a string of telling rides, which saw him the highest American finisher after Lance Armstrong.
After his surprisingly strong display last time around, much will be expected from him and his Rabobank team-mates.
And after bringing in a host of new riders, the Dutch team look their most equipped yet to help him.
His preparations show his focus is on the Tour and nothing else this season.
After last year's race, he recalled his initial interest in the race.
He said: "I remember watching it on TV when I was 13, from my home in Butte, Montana, and thinking, 'wow' and knew that someday I'd be there."
Despite that, he spent his teenage years cycling in the summer to strengthen himself for alpine skiing, then his first love.