Geraint Thomas has welcomed the increase in time trial kilometres for the Tour de France and believes Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic are the race favourites.
The Grand Tour features a 27km-long time trial on stage five followed by a 31km final GC decider on stage 20 which Thomas believes will benefit him.
He told Velon: "It’s nice to have more TTs in the Tour, and normal TTs as well, not mountain TTs that are drags all the way up. It’s nice to mix it up a bit because you need to be able to do everything well to win the Tour, it's not just about climbing.
Evenepoel: I need to improve to challenge Pogacar, Roglic, Bernal
"The first Tour I did there were two 50km TTs so we’re still quite a way off that, but it's more than in recent years.
'Fabulous Finale' - Thomas sprints to Stage 5 victory of Criterium
"The TTs are definitely going to be crucial because over 58km you could lose a good minute or so and in the mountains there aren’t massive difference these days, everyone seems to be a bit closer, big groups coming in over the last few kilometres. It might be completely different this year.
"TTs aren't an easy place to get an advantage but if you’re a better TTer than a smaller climber then it’s a good place to gain some time."
- Ineos Grenadiers announce their squad as Brailsford says 'expect the unexpected'
- Cavendish would make Bennett nervous at Tour, claims Lefevre
Slovenian pair Pogacar and Roglic finished first and second at last year's tour. Thomas says it is hard to look beyond the two again for the yellow jersey.
"Obviously there are the two standout Slovenian riders who owned 2020 and have done well this year, they’re the two favourites, then there’s us I would say, we’ve got a pretty strong team," Thomas added.
'Incredibly exciting' - Walker on women's Tour de France
"Then there are a load of guys that are competitive, these days there are so many good teams and good riders that you’re bound to miss someone.
"[As for a] dark horse...it’s hard to say, I think all the decent GC guys wouldn’t be a dark horse in my eyes. Maybe people wouldn’t expect [Miguel Ángel López] to be up there, he was up there until the final TT last year.
"The two TTs are his Achilles heel so we’ll see how he goes in them."
Il Lombardia 2021 as it happened – Sensational Pogacar wins his second Monument of 2021
In-form Roglic the favourite for star-studded Il Lombardia - Blazin' Saddles