Mark Cavendish has said that he is feeling the pressure of the competition but remains adamant that he is still the best sprinter in the world.
The Omega-Pharma Quick-Step rider has 25 stage victories under his belt at the Tour de France, although this year's return of two was his lowest since debuting in 2007.
He is still nine short of the all-time record held by Belgium's Eddy Merckx and, at 28, is aware that time is not on his side.
"This has been the first year that I have been really challenged," Sky Sports News quotes Cavendish as saying.
"It has made me realise I'm getting old and I have got to work on stuff I haven't had to work on before. I still believe I'm the most dominant sprinter.
"In the  Tour I just didn't feel on it. In the past I have been able to win when I'm not on it, but now I can't afford that."
Cavendish has also calmed speculation that he could return to track cycling ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.