ALBERTO CONTADOR is adamant he can beat odds-on favourite Chris Froome in this year's 100th running of the Tour de France.
Two-time winner Contador, returning to the event after missing last year's race due to a suspension for using banned substances, is seen as Froome's most likely challenger but question marks over his form mean he is a distant second favourite.
When Froome won the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month, Contador was a distant 10th, claiming he was only at 75pc of his capabilities.
But with the riders now assembled in Corsica ahead of tomorrow's Grand Depart, the Spaniard – who has a record of finding form when it matters most – is in a more bullish mood.
"We have seen Froome have a strong season so far," he said. "But if I thought I could not beat him I would not have the motivation to be here."
Froome's Team Sky squad is surely the strongest in the field, but Contador believes his Team Saxo-Tinoff unit has improved considerably, and is confident they will create opportunities.
"This is a good team, the team is stronger," he said.
"That gives you more tranquillity, you're more calm because they can put you into a strong position going into the mountains."
One major reason Team Saxo-Tinkoff can feel more confident this year is the addition of Australian Michael Rogers, a key part of the Team Sky squad which propelled Bradley Wiggins to victory last year – and a man valued not only for his abilities but also his knowledge of key rivals.