Lisbon - Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and world champion Rui Alberto Costa from Portugal will be hoping to unseat defending champion Tony Martin at this year's Tour of the Algarve which gets underway on Wednesday.
The five-stage race is the first race of the year for Contador, whom defending Tour de France champion Christopher Froome has singled out as one of his two main rivals to his crown for this year's renewal, along with Italy's Vincenzo Nibali.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider said he was "very motivated and very excited" this season as he seeks to get his career back on track after serving a two-year ban for testing positive for clenbuterol on the 2010 Tour de France.
He said he was looking forward to the Tour of the Algarve but had one eye on the more high-profile races to come.
"There will be riders with more pace than me. The goal is to keep adding kilometres and think about the next races," he said.
Martin will be helped out by Omega-Pharma team-mate British sprint great Mark Cavendish.
At last year's race, 28-year-old Martin, a formidable time-triallist who has won the world title three times, won by just under a minute from team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski, with Rui Costa coming in fifth.