Hickman: 10 riders capable of winning 2019 Isle of Man TT races
Peter Hickman reckons there are "probably 10 people" who will be able to win one of the seven solo races during the 2019 Isle of Man TT
The Smiths Racing BMW rider secured two wins at last year's event, including the Senior TT, in which he set a new outright lap record of 135.452mph to become the world's fastest road racer.
Four riders scored wins across the two Superbike, two Supersport, Superstock, Lightweight and Zero races in 2018, while the top 10 starters for this year's SBK and STK events contains eight previous winners.
Hickman highlighted himself, double winner Dean Harrison and 18-time victor Michael Dunlop (both of whom won races in '18) as the "main three" who will fight for success this year, but admitted "everyone else is really close" behind.
"It's going to be interesting," Hickman told Autosport.
"I think there's probably 10 people naturally who can win a race. Realistically, they're not that far away.
"I think the main three are myself, Dean and Michael. But, then, everyone is really close.
"There's not much in it with other people as well. [James] Hillier is always really strong; Conor [Cummins] is always really strong; Lee Johnston's gonna be strong this year.
"He's back to something he really knows and is comfortable with again [Johnston will ride a BMW again in the big bike events after a year with Honda in 2018].
"There's so many people you could choose and go, 'Actually he can win and he can win and he can win'."
Hickman admitted he was on the back foot in 2019 owing to the newness of the BMW S1000RR, and had been compounded by a lack of testing, but guided the bike to its first victory in the Superstock race at the North West 200 last week.
Harrison - who won the second SSP race in 2018 - echoed Hickman's comments on the depth of competition for '19, adding that the TT always "brings up something you won't expect".
"There's loads of people ready to ride the bike," said Harrison, who remains with the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki squad.
"The TT always brings up something you won't expect. Who knows? I can't answer that question till the end of practice.
"You'll see at the end of practice week how fast people are going, because you've got to go a certain speed throughout practice week to know how good the bike is - you've got to push."
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