Simon Gerrans heads into the UCI Road World Championships in Limburg, the Netherlands, brimming with confidence after a brilliant 2012 that will see him start the event as a co-favourite alongside some of cycling's biggest stars.
I tend to put a lot more pressure on myself than I think I receive from anybody outside. But it has not affected me too much this year. My focus has been unbowed heading into worlds.
The 32-year-old Gerrans has enjoyed a slow but steady progression in his professional career, forging his way from relative obscurity as a domestique on the French Ag2R squad back in 2004, to a captain's role with Orica-GreenEDGE.
Before this year Gerrans was perhaps best-known for his title as the only Australian to win a stage at all three Grand Tours, but he's eclipsed that mantle in 2012.
Leadership has fuelled the Victorian to flourish with Orica-GreenEDGE, taking out the elite men's national title in January to set up a year of highlights that's also included a second win at the Santos Tour Down Under, a Milan-San Remo title and more recently topping the field in Quebec.
A deserving Gerrans will take the lead role at the world championships for the national team, the first time in his career he's held the role outright. He has the backing of team director Matt White who tipped him yesterday, as well as the support of a young, but strong team.
An in-form Gerrans said the biggest impediment to his own success may be his own head.
"I tend to put a lot more pressure on myself than I think I receive from anybody outside," said Gerrans.
"But it has not affected me too much this year, the focus leading into the world championships."
Gerrans, who has described this season as his best year as a professional said that he's been feeding off the momentum he's picked up this season, and has to believe he can now beat the world's best on Sunday.
"My results have given me confidence and I know I am able to be up there with the best guys in the world and can beat them on my day."
The undulating course through the hilly Limburg region suits Gerrans with its 27 climbs during a gruelling six hours of racing.
Gerrans' ability to master hillier courses combined with his sprint makes him a strong contender for the coveted rainbow jersey, but will face stiff opposition, with Philippe Gilbert, Peter Sagan, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Alejandro Valverde all in super form.
Briton's Mark Cavendish won last year's world championships in Copenhagen.