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Gambling.

At this time the Euro season is almost one quarter of the way finished. Anyone with the excuse that they are still training to find their legs is just lying. Everyone has had time to get ready and if you are not performing now then you obviously fooled yourself into thinking you were training properly. At the same time not everyone is aiming for the classics in April. Many riders now focus on one or two points of the season and usually one of those is a Grand Tour. Many riders will try to get a result in the spring to take some pressure off them for when it comes time to sink or swim at the Tour de whatever. If April slips by without a result then the high stake gamble of betting everything on one hand just creates more stress.

Levi Leipheimer has gambled in the past and it's paid off with good results but it's also backfired on him when he crashed on the very first stage of the 2003 Tour. Tyler Hamilton also has had things go right and go wrong at the Tour de France. Jan Ullrich..enough said.

You could say Armstrong is a professional gambler. Hell, he has done it six years in a row. Throw the entire season to the side except for one big race, the Tour de France. I'm sure if he could get away with it Tom Brady, from the New England Patriots football team, would love to skip the season and just win the Super Bowl. I'm not criticizing Lance here; his ability to peak at the exact same time, for the same three weeks is remarkable. He has his training so dialed that he practically knows how each pedal stroke will affect him heading into July. It's a science that Lance has mastered and only a few others have matched. We have seen many try to reach Lance's level, and some have on some years, but none as consistent as Mr. July.

As focused as Lance can become many people are still debating whether he will actually start the Tour de France. I know, he announced that he is going to ride but don't think Lance never changes his mind. Lance announced he is having a press conference at the Tour of Georgia with some big news. Many think that he will state that he will retire after this year's Tour de France. Maybe he will do the hour record; maybe he will just announce that this is his last Tour. Maybe he went to Italy to clear everything up to announce that he will ride the Giro, a race he has long wanted to ride. I don't think he will announce he is getting married but everyone will be all ears nonetheless.

If you want to roll the dice just look at the Classics. You never know what will happen when you throw 180 riders together on narrow Belgian roads combined with rain, wind, cobbles, and 250 kilometers. The strongest does not always win; just ask Johan Museeuw who flatted in the winning break of the 2004 Paris-Roubaix only five kilometers from the finish. For Discovery Channel and George Hincapie it's another year to chase the elusive classics win. So many times so close but that last few feet are always the hardest to cover. This year with the change in Paris-Roubaix, taking out the Arenberg Forest, I see a large group arriving at the velodrome. The riders will still make the race hard and attack each other but the forest always got rid of one hundred riders one short 2.5 km section. A winner might come from a small group, two or three riders, but after that I see a large field sprint on the track.

For Bobby Julich the early season has matched his dreams. Two great wins at Paris-Nice and Criterium International and with that kind of momentum you don't look back. You have to take advantage of it while you can and continue to throw down the gauntlet until you blow. Hopefully he will still have some fire power when the Tour of Georgia arrives to battle Lance, Levi, Horner, and the rest of the Euros coming stateside.

April is critical in determining if things are going right or going wrong. For those individuals and teams that don't take a recognized victory in April the stakes at the poker table only get higher.




















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