Reigning world sprint champion Theo Bos will be gunning for his fourth such title when the blue riband event of the world track championships gets underway in Manchester on Friday.
And the flying Dutchman has hinted that his main challenger, big Frenchman Kevin Sireau, may lack the necessary experience to battle his way through to the gold medal. With only five months to go to the Beijing Olympics and despite keeping a low profile in the World Cup this season, Bos is still considered the man to beat in the men's prestigious speed events.
Having been disappointed to win silver behind Australia's Ryan Bayley at the 2004 Games in Athens, Bos said he now has the experience to avoid making the same kind of mistakes he did four years ago. That means not overdoing the training after a successful sprint bid at the world championships, which in 2004 led him to get ill in the run up to the Olympics.
But Bos insists he will not be aiming to deceive his rivals over his pre-Olympics form in the later stages of Friday's competition. "I could come into the competition with a strategy to mislead my rivals over my form, but I'm taking these championships seriously," said Bos, the sprint champion in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
"I want to keep a hold of my rainbow jersey going into the Olympics. Put it this way, anything less than victory here would be a big disappointment." Bos' supremacy is likely be challenged throughout the tough sprint competition by a strong French contingent, with Australia's Mark French and compatriot Bayley also likely to figure in proceedings.
France dominated the team sprint competition yesterday ahead of silver medallists Great Britain, with Sireau the second man in between starter Gregory Bauge and anchor man Arnaud Tournant.France have two places allocated at the Olympics for the individual sprint and so far only Sireau - this season's World Cup champion - is guaranteed a ticket.
The battle for the second spot between Bauge and Bourgain will add spice to the tournament. Bos, however, believes 20-year-old Sireau is the man to watch. "Kevin Sireau is my biggest threat, he's a huge talent. But he maybe lacks a bit of experience," said the Dutchman.