Bradley Wiggins has hailed the influence of Team Sky as he closes in on becoming Britain's first Tour de France champion.
The 32-year-old, who finished a British-best of fourth in the 2009 Tour while riding for Garmin, will take a lead of two minutes five seconds into the final five days of racing, with the Tour set to resume with Wednesday's 197-kilometre route from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon.
Wiggins was Team Sky's marquee signing for their debut season, but finished outside the top 20 in the 2010 Tour and then crashed out of the 2011 version with a broken collarbone, but now is in pole position to top the podium on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.
"I felt a few years ago I was failing as an athlete," Wiggins said. "I never really fulfilled my potential and I think the last few years, with the right people around me (at Team Sky), I've started to realise my potential."
Wiggins added: "That (the track) is where I lived in my comfort zone, but I was capable of so much more and the people around me were aware of that.
"I've always had the engine, it's just getting those people to get that out of me. That's taken time, it's taken a few years. Now we're leading the Tour de France with five days to go."
Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford believes that without the struggle of two years ago, Wiggins and the team might not be in their present position.
Brailsford said: "Out of failure you get a real chance to move forward. I think if he'd run eighth, or seventh, in the Tour in 2010, would we be here now? I don't think we would. We'd have thought we were doing all right."
Wiggins is in a commanding position, with teammate Chris Froome second and the nearest hostile challenger, Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), 2mins 23secs behind in third place.
But Wiggins is the superior time-trial rider of all the overall contenders and the next two mountain days, particularly Thursday's summit finish at Peyragudes, are likely to decide who is in yellow on the Champs-Elysees.
And Brailsford warned: "The closer you get, the more risk we have of the C-word, which is complacency."
Wiggins added: "This is a star team. We've got the world champion and each rider in their own right is capable of something in the Tour de France.
"I am part of this team and always want to be part of it to the end of my career.
"It is about the team being successful. I was the one given the role to lead the team at this year's Tour and I took the responsibility.
"What is important is the team succeeds, otherwise there is no point in me being in the team if it's all about me. It's never just been about me."
Unavoidably Wiggins has been the focus of attention, with around 200 media straining to hear his every word on the lawn of the Team Sky hotel in Pau. "It's a bit like being in a goldfish bowl," Wiggins admitted.