Bradley Wiggins has admitted that his upcoming quest to become the first British winner of the Tour de France is the "stuff of dreams".
The Team Sky rider, who is a three-time Olympic champion on the track, finished fourth in the 2009 Tour and enters the 99th edition of the race as the favourite for victory.
His brilliant run of form this season - which has included wins in Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine - means he sits above defending champion Cadel Evans as the man to beat according to the bookmakers.
"It's the stuff of dreams for me, being a fan of the sport. I'd never imagined that one day I'll be favourite for the Tour," the 32-year-old said.
"Kids from Kilburn didn't become favourites for the Tour - you were either a postman, a milkman or worked in Ladbrokes.
"We're in a brilliant position and I think it's something to be celebrated. I've never been one for propaganda and hype. As with most things, most sports, ultimately it's the performance that matters. I know where I'm at. I can't account for where everyone else is at.
"What I have said is that I'm better than I've ever been. If that makes me one of the favourites then fantastic.
"The performances speak for themselves and the team, with the results we've got this season, speak for themselves. We'll see."
Wiggins went into last year's race with similarly lofty ambitions but was forced to abandon early in the race with a broken collarbone.
Wiggins added: "Paris is a long way off. We saw that last year. I was in hospital after seven days. The next three weeks are going to decide this Tour and not what you say.
"We go out on the road and that's where it really matters."
The road to Paris on July 22 begins on Saturday with a 6.4-kilometre prologue in Liege, with Wiggins hoping to gain an early time advantage over his general classification rivals.
Asked how he will approach the prologue, Wiggins made it clear that there would be no room for energy conservation despite having a gruelling three weeks of racing still to go.
He said: "The same way we've done every race this year. You can't mess around at this level, you can't try to be smart.
"It's just the same thing I've been doing since I was 16. Nothing changes from any other bike race - it is just another bike race tomorrow.
"I'm just focused on what I'm doing and that is just literally not looking past tomorrow evening at the moment and that is it at the moment and after that one day at a time."