Cadel Evans is remaining cautious about his chances of winning the 2009 Tour de France after second-place finishes in '07 and '08.
The Australian believes his Silence-Lotto team are improving, but says they need more funding if they are to challenge the likes of Astana.
In an interview with Cyclingnews.com, he said: "As a team we've come close in the last few years and for the budget we have, we provide good value for the sponsor.
“We've come second for the last two years and we've been getting better and better. Our team is a bit different to Lance's [Armstrong] team, who he used to co-own. Lotto is a government-owned team so they have other priorities than just the Tour; they're also obliged to promote Belgian cycling at all levels."
Yaroslav Popovych and Robbie McEwen have left the team, while Bernard Kohl has been banished. In come Sebastian Lang, Charly Wegelius and Thomas Dekker in a lineup that looks as though it’s built around Evans' needs.
"Last year may have been my best chance to win the Tour [so far], but I had back luck, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens in 2009," he said.
Evans also explained his reaction to an incident in which he batted away the hand of a journalist on last year’s Tour.
"What they didn't understand was that I had skin missing off the entire left hand side of my body and that every time someone touched me it was painful," he said.
"There's an amount of disrespect you can tolerate but at certain points it's just too much. I'd just lost yellow and probably the Tour. Then I've got someone tapping me on the shoulder again and again. I think my response wasn't so bad, considering. I know it wasn't a perfect situation.”
For the full interview with Cadel Evans, go to Cyclingnews.com.