Whisper it quietly in France but a trio of English speaking riders is set to dominate the 99th edition of their most famous sports event, a bike race that represents the Gallic nation's very essence.
Winding across the flatlands of northern France and over the cols of the Pyrenees and the Alps, before finishing on the Champs Elysees in Paris on 22 July, the Tour de France is watched by millions of spectators during July and literally brings the country to a standstill
The possible success of Britain's "Rosbifs" cyclists and that their main challengers will come from Australia and Canada is a further sign of the globalization of a sport once dominated by riders from France and northern European neighbors such as Belgium and the Netherlands and Italy and Spain.
Between 1999 and 2005 seven straight wins for American Lance Armstrong threw a spanner in the spokes of the Tour's traditional powerbrokers and the trend has continued apace.
A 32-year-old Londoner, Bradley Wiggins is the favorite for overall victory in 2012, with his main opposition likely to come from Australian Cadel Evans, who triumphed last year, while Canadian Ryder Hesjedal has a good chance of a podium place.
"I think it's great because cycling used to be a European sport and now we see Australian riders, North Americans and the British coming forward," Gilles Simon, the cycling editor of L'Equipe, the French sports newspaper so closely associated with the Tour, told CNN ahead of the race's start on Saturday.
"Within a few more years I believe we will even see a rider from Asia challenging for a major jerseys."
"But for us the favorite is Bradley Wiggins," Simon admitted.
Wiggins, a surprising fourth in the 2009 Tour, will start with impeccable credentials, having become the first man to win the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine stage races in the same season.
An in-form Wiggins crashed out early in the 2011 Tour de France and is thus doubly determined to seize the chance to cement his place in cycling's hall of fame.
"I've been waiting for this moment for a long time and I'll do everything I can to win the Tour de France," Wiggins told the Team Sky's official website.
"The team's preparation has been perfectly managed and our form this season gives us a great chance of being successful."
Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in 2011 and the 35-year-old BMC leader will not give up his crown without an almighty fight.
"We're bringing an even stronger team to the Tour this year and the route would seem to favor me," he told his team's official website.
Throw into the mix Hesjedal, who won last month's Giro d'Italia, and it' is clear there has been a modal shift in cycling supremacy.
"We could have a Tour podium with three native English speaking riders," Jonathan Vaughters, Hesjedal's team boss at Garmin-Barracuda, told CNN.
American Vaughters is talking up the chances of his 31-year-old star rider, despite recent Giro winners flopping in the Tour de France just a few weeks later.
"Ryder will break that historical trend, whether he can win the Tour is hard to say, but he will be a contender," said Vaughters.
The cause of the English speakers has been helped by the absence from the 2012 Tour of two riders who may well have had a say in the eventual outcome.
Luxembourg's Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador of Spain fought a classic duel on the slopes of the Col du Tourmalet in the 2010 edition.
Contador emerged a narrow victor overall, but was later stripped of the title after failing a doping control during the race.
Schleck was awarded the race retrospectively, but his hopes of winning a second Tour were dashed when he withdrew after suffering injuries in a fall at the Dauphine race won by Wiggins earlier this year.