The dominant force at the Tour de France for most of the past decade is seeing its supremacy challenged, and this year's race could well be the one marking a major shift of power in cycling.
Since Bradley Wiggins' triumph at the marquee event in 2012, British outfit Team Ineos have never been under such a threat as they are on the starting line in the Riviera city of Nice - where the three-week Grand Tour is set to commence on Saturday under the cloud of COVID-19.
The pandemic has forced the tour organisers to move it to the end of the summer holidays and the few races held prior to the event strongly suggest that Dutch team Jumbo-Visma is ready to replace Ineos as the top squad.
But a changing of the guard is far from guaranteed.
The uncertainty brought on by the virus and the steady rise of cases in France in recent weeks mean there is a real risk the race could be stopped short if the situation deteriorates further or if the peloton is badly hit by positive results.
Under the COVID-19 exclusion rules issued by cycling's governing body, teams could be excluded from the race if two of their riders test positive in the space of seven days.
"It's a first miracle that we are able to start this race, but we want a second miracle to happen, which is the Tour de France to arrive in Paris," UCI president David Lappartient said.
"The goal is really to reach Paris."
Led by the 2019 Spanish Vuelta winner Primoz Roglic and 2018 Tour de France runner-up Tom Dumoulin, Jumbo-Visma arrived with a roster capable of controlling the race in the mountains.
Roglic has all the qualities required to win this mountainous edition of the Tour that will take the peloton over France's five mountain ranges.
When organisers unveiled the route for the 2020 edition in October, there was little doubt the 3,484km trek would be an ideal setting for defending champion Egan Bernal.
Meanwhile, French hopes of producing a homegrown Tour winner for the first time in 35 years will rest with Thibaut Pinot.
This year's route, with nearly 30 climbs over the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Jura and the Vosges, and only one uphill time-trial, is perfectly suited to Pinot's ambition of becoming the first French winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985.
"I'm stronger in my head, I have less pressure," Pinot said.
"Hopefully it cannot be worse than last year.
"It has hardened me, I feel more confident and stronger this year."
Whether that's good enough will be evident in three weeks' time.