CADEL Evans is not the first name to figure in his rivals' reckoning of favouritism for the Tour de France, but they have learned - having observed or raced against him in his nine starts - it is best to not discount him.
That will suit Evans (BMC) fine, for the 36-year-old 2011 Tour champion is often at his most dangerous when he can fly under the radar.
One rival who would not rule out Evans on the eve of this year's 100th Tour is the Spaniard Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) who beat him by 23 seconds in 2007 for the first of two such victories.
Contador was fifth in the 2011 Tour coming off a Giro d'Italia win. He later lost both results when he was banned two years retroactively for doping in the 2010 Tour. The 30-year-old, who resumed racing in August, said that after Evans' third place in this year's Giro: ''Evans is a challenger, a candidate for the overall. He's experienced, very resistant and he will always be there in the race. You never know how you recover after the Giro. But right now at the start of the race, he's a podium candidate.''