Three times a Grand Tour winner, and back riding in the Tour de France after a hiatus last year, Russian Denis Menchov is rightly one of the hot favourites for the Maillot Jaune in 2012.
The 34-year-old, who finished second in the 2010 Tour after Alberto Contador's disqualification, was unlucky to miss out on a place in the 2011 peloton after his then team Geox-TMC were not invited to compete.
That decision deprived the peloton of one of world cycling's strongest competitors, with Menchov having captured the 2005 and 2007 Vuelta a Espana, in addition to the 2009 Giro d'Italia.
For 2012 he has perhaps wisely chosen to switch to a UCI ProTeam, Katusha, and will enter the Tour as the team's lead rider and main general classification hope.
Menchov will be hoping that wearing the colours of Russia at Katusha will inspire him to victory.
"It will be my first big stage race with the team of my country, so I'll give my best in order to win," Menchov said. "It would be the crowning achievement of my career, so that is why I look forward to the start."
If Menchov is looking for omens, he will be cheered by his Tour performances in other even-numbered years. In 2006 he finished fifth, in 2008 he made the podium in third (aided, however, by Bernhard Kohl's disqualification), to go with his second place two years ago.
Those excellent results came after his breakthrough Tour in 2003, when as a 25-year-old he led the Young Rider classification in finishing 11th.
A noted time-trialist, Menchov will undoubtedly benefit from this year's route, which contains two individual time-trials comprising some 100km in distance.
Along with reigning champion Cadel Evans, who proved his TT mettle in last year's penultimate stage at Grenoble, Menchov will look to the time-trial stages to press home his yellow jersey credentials.
And if talk ahead of the Grand Depart in Liege is to be believed, the Russian will be at the head of the pack in 2012.