Team Sky's Geraint Thomas fears Peter Sagan will be difficult to stop at Milan-San Remo on Sunday, but insists the race remains anyone's to win.
Sagan goes into the first of the season's five Monuments as favourite after picking up five wins already this the year, with the latest being a superb triumph on a brutally tough sixth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico last Monday.
Mark Cavendish is also in contention to claim a second Milan-San Remo title, while 2008 winner Fabian Cancellara, Germany's Andre Greipel and world champion Philippe Gilbert could all challenge for victory.
The 298km race is once again expected to come down to a battle between sprinters and one-day specialists over the day's final two climbs, the Cipressa and the Poggio, the latter of which arrives 10km from the finish line.
Thomas, who himself is a decent outside bet, believes it will be possible to shed the sprinters on the climbs, but admits dropping Sagan is a different proposition.
Sagan 'completely different'
He told teamsky.com: "Sagan is obviously one of the stand-out names. I also think Cav [Mark Cavendish]. He has been talking it down, but he loves that race. You never know, he might be playing mind games.
"I think we have got to hope for a hard race and, hopefully, that will get rid of some of the sprinters.
"Sagan is completely different. He can climb with the best and sprint with the best.
"Numbers are key. If we can have a few at the end and have a few options to play and isolate people, then anything can happen. It is still anyone's race, I think."
Milan - San Remo marks the resumption of the Classics season after Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice and starts a month packed with marquee one-day races.
Team Sky's "Classics group" has prepared for this prestigious part of the season at high-altitude training camps in Spain and Thomas believes the squad has the fitness and form to take a victory in the coming weeks.
Element of luck
However, he admitted marathon races such as Milan-San Remo also require a large slice of luck.
He added: "It is probably one of the toughest races to win in the fact that there are so many different things that can happen.
"I think, physically, we will be a lot more conditioned and a lot more ready for it. But with the Classics, it is more than just being fit. It is not just riding up a hill and the fastest man wins.
"There is tactics and being in the right place at the right time. It is quite technical and there is luck, too, with punctures and crashes and all that sort of stuff.
"It is definitely the best prepared we have been as a whole as a team. So, hopefully, with a bit of luck, we can get something out of it."