Kelly: Evans has edge over Wiggins in Tour de France

Eurosport commentator Sean Kelly is, like many others, expecting a two-way fight for this year's Tour de France title, but the Irishman believes Cadel Evans holds a slight advantage over his main rival Bradley Wiggins.

This year's race, which starts on Saturday, takes in new mountain routes and features more individual time trials than previous editions, something Kelly says will play into the pair's hands.

As such, BMC's Evans, the defending champion, and Wiggins, who has enjoyed a stellar start to the season with Team Sky, are widely expected to battle each other for the yellow jersey on the road to Paris.

While the contest is likely to be closely-fought, Kelly sees the experience and consistency of gritty Australian Evans proving decisive over the three-week race.

"For me there are two real favourites - Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans," said Kelly, a veteran of 14 Tours between 1978 and 1992.

"The time trialling is going to be very important; we have two long individual time trials that will suit Wiggins and Evans.

"Some of the other contenders will inevitably lose time there, but that could make the race very interesting because they will have to attack and take their chances in the mountain stages.

"If I had to put my money on it, I'd go for Evans, because he has more experience, he won last year, he's a real fighter, he's always there, whether it's in the mountains, time-trials, or flat stages.

"In any big stage race you have to be present every day, good every day. I think he'll be more be consistent than Wiggins, who, when faced with problems, can become frail and lose his head."

The 99th edition of the famous race kicks off on Saturday with a 6.4km prologue in Liege, with Wiggins one of the favourites as he begins his quest to become the first Briton to arrive on the Champs Elysees in yellow.

Two lengthy time trials follow over the course of the three-week race and Kelly believes that should suit Evans and Wiggins, who also have the bonus of not having to worry about the threats of Alberto Contador or Andy Schleck, both of whom are missing from this year's start list.

"The two big favourites, Wiggins and Evans, are strong time trialists, whereas Frank Schleck and Jurgen Van den Broeck for example aren't as comfortable in the long individual time trials," Kelly said.

"In the mountains this year some of the climbs are really steep, the gradients are much greater than we've had in the past. Wiggins doesn't like those very steep climbs and we've got a few more of them this year.

"There are still a similar number of climbs to previous Tours, but normally in the Tour de France you don't get the really steep ones like in the Giro or the Vuelta - this year we have more of this style of climb."

He added: "It's always a disappointment not to have all the big names on the start line. Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador are two guys that everyone would like to see there because they'd make it a more interesting and exciting race. But that's the risk of bike racing.

"Hopefully we don't have a situation like last year where there are lots of crashes in the first week of the race that would rule out more big names."