Geraint Thomas survived the first day of racing through the climbs of the 2019 Tour de France
but then suggested that team-mate Egan Bernal is favourite for the first summit finish on stage six at La Planche des Belles Filles.
'It is hard,' said defending champion Thomas of the steep and unsurfaced finish to the 7km climb. 'I did it just before the Tour of Switzerland. That sort of climb favours the punchy, pure climbers, Egan for one.'
All eyes are now on how Thomas copes with the climbing skills of his 22-year-old Colombian team-mate, who is being widely cited as the champion in waiting.
'You can't really tell a lot from the last few days,' said Thomas. 'We will find out a lot today. There are a lot of climbs before the last one. It will be a challenge.'
Among those hoping to keep pace with Thomas and Bernal is Adam Yates, who knows the final climb well from his days living close to the Vosges mountains as a young pro.
Yates said: 'I don't know the new gravel bit but I reckon I know it well enough. It's the first big test.'
With 4,000 metres of altitude gain in the stage, it will be a draining day for the less able climbers in the peloton such as sprint king Peter Sagan.
He took stage five to Colmar on Wednesday and labelled the win 'exquisite'.