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By Chris Carmichael
When Lance was questioned before the prologue about whether he would try to wear the yellow jersey for the first road stage of the Tour, he replied that when there is a chance to wear the jersey, you simply have to go for it. There is no other choice. Sixty men started the first stage within 30 seconds of the yellow jersey, and judging by the intensity of the racing, every one of them shared the race leader’s philosophy regarding the yellow jersey.
Have you ever heard of Rubens Bertogliati before today? Few people have; he’s young and obviously talented, but he’s not on the top of anyone’s list of potential stage winners.
His relative anonymity worked in his favor and he rode a smart race to take today’s stage and the yellow jersey. He took a chance, really the only chance he had, and it paid off. With a big group containing elite sprinters approaching the final 10 km, a long solo attack was out of the question. Waiting for the sprint wasn’t a good option either. The one and only option was to jump somewhere between 1km and 700-meters-to-go and hope for a little hesitation in the peloton.
The seconds and meters ticked by while the sprinters looked at each other. Soon it was too late, Bertogliati foiled the sprinters, took the stage, and relieved Lance of the yellow jersey. It was the right move at the right time and he will wear yellow tomorrow as a result.
Bertogliati won today because he had the confidence and daring to attack the sprinters. That confidence and daring comes naturally to some, and must be taught to others. Lance had more than enough confidence and daring as a young rider. I encourage the young riders I work with to take chances in races, and you should do the same.
It is important to realize that you must be willing to lose in order to win.
Next weekend, attack 20km from the finish line and see what happens. If you get caught, attack again at 10km, then again at 5km. If you win, congratulations. If you get dropped, you know a little bit more about your strengths and weaknesses as a racer. Learn from the experience and attack again the following weekend.