Porto Vecchio - Chris Froome has admitted on Thursday that his build-up for this year's Tour de France has been perfect but added that nothing could have prepared him for the hype that goes with being favourite to win the biggest race in the sport.
The 28-year-old Kenyan-born British rider is widely expected to succeed his fellow countryman, and Sky colleague, Bradley Wiggins as champion at the end of the race, which gets underway in Corsica on Saturday.
Like Wiggins 12 months ago, Froome comes into the Tour in fine fettle - among his successes already this season are a victory in the Criterium International in Corsica and a first place in the recent Criterium du Dauphine.
However, while feeling in great shape 48 hours before the Grand Depart, Froome acknowledged that he is still not fully comfortable with his status as odds-on favourite in the eyes of most.
"I feel like I'm in super condition. I'm ready and I have the support of a really strong team around me so I'm looking forward to just getting into the race now," Froome, who finished second to Wiggins last year, said at a Team Sky press conference in Porto-Vecchio.
"I don't think there's really much you can do to be ready for this amount of hype and certainly the number of journalists who are here today, it's really different to any of the other races that are on our calendar," he added as a note of caution.
"It's definitely a bit of a surprise to see this.
"I think the way my season has been structured, the way I've been able to go to some of these early season races, target them and be in a position of defending and being in the leadership position there has given me a really good build-up to this point but this is just on a different level completely."
Sitting alongside Froome, and eager to give his team leader a rest from the limelight, Sky principal Dave Brailsford urged him to take it one step at a time in his bid for victory and sought to play down the inevitable comparisons made between this year's favourite and last year's winner Wiggins, who is missing here due to injury.
"It's a natural comparison to make, but it's always difficult to compare individuals," Brailsford said.
"The physical make-ups of Chris and Brad are slightly different, but Chris is absolutely ideally placed this year to use his strengths and those of the team to take on this race.
"Like Bradley last year, he has spent time leading races, wearing leaders' jerseys, and getting used to the extra burden of responsibility that goes with being in that situation.
"But every race is different. Everyone is starting from scratch and there is all to play for."
Alberto Contador is seen as the most likely rival for Froome in the general classification, especially with Vincenzo Nibali not taking part.
The Italian is the only man to have got the better of Froome this year, having done so in the Tirreno-Adriatico.
However, Froome himself lamented the absence of Nibali and insisted the field remains wide open.
"I always believe the more levels there are of high calibre in a race, the bigger the profile of the race, so it's a shame Vincenzo isn't here," he said.
"But having said that we do have a lot of very capable contenders for this year's Tour. I'm not going to name them in case I miss someone out but I'd say there are close to seven or eight who really stand out as being potential winners.
"It's certainly going to be a tough race this year."