Sir Bradley Wiggins believes he starts next month's Giro d'Italia with the right backing to become the first-ever British rider to win the famous maglia rosa.
Tour de France winner Wiggins, who won his fourth career Olympic gold with his time trial victory at London 2012, heads a nine-strong Team Sky line-up for the first Grand Tour of the season.
And Wiggins has made no secret that the 21-stage race, which will roll out of Naples next Saturday, is his target for the season.
“Alongside the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix the Giro d’Italia is one of the biggest bike races in the world and one I’d love to win," he said.
"I’ve watched the Giro since I was a kid and have seen my idols win it, which makes it even more special. It has always been a race that I’ve wanted to ride well in and I just can’t wait to get started.
“I believe the Giro team this year is just as strong as the Tour de France team last year and the results prove that everyone is ready to go.”
Wiggins is the only British rider selected for the squad and team principal Sir Dave Brailsford is confident his united nations line-up, which includes proven Giro performers Dario Cataldo and Sergio Henao, can deliver.
“It’s well-documented that the Giro has been a season goal for Bradley," he said.
"With that in mind we want to get the best performance possible and try to win the race. If you work back from there you need support in the mountains and a strong nucleus of the team who can work hard.
“We’ve had a good run into the Giro, have a strong squad and the preparation has gone well.
"The final touches have been put in place after the Giro del Trentino and we’re all set to go.
“We’ve got quality climbing support and some really big engines too. There’s also the team time trial to think about and we’ve got a very strong squad.”
© Sportsbeat 2013