Numbers, baby, it’s all in the numbers.
Who believes Lance Armstrong will beat Alberto Contador and win the 2010 Tour de France? If you read the cycling press, it’s a long shot for the creaky rider who will be almost 39 when the tour begins in Rotterdam.
His Radio Shack master tactician and best friend Johan Bruyneel says Contador has no weaknesses on the bike. The Belgian claims to have little idea how to beat the Spaniard beyond psychological warfare and throwing cobblestones at Alberto.
Saxo Bank mastermind Bjarne Riis had much the same opinion of Armstrong’s odds. “I think he can do well, but it will be difficult for him to get on the podium,” said Riis. “So he must really do much better, and I do not think he can. He is getting older.”
In an interview with Spanish daily Marca, Armstrong himself questioned his chances. “If I were Contador I wouldn’t be afraid of Lance,” he responded.
The odds look daunting but maybe it’s time to poll the real experts, the guys with big money on the line. In other words, the bookies.
Sites Blue Square calculates Armstrong at 11 to 1 odds while William Hill has him on the board at 8 to 1. The “Lance Armstrong Special” at Skybet has him at 7 to 2 to finish ahead of Contador and 7 to 4 to finish on the podium.
Over at BetBrain, Lance is at 10 to 1 and 9 to 1 at BetInternet and Iasbet. SportingBet puts his chances at 6 to 4 to finish on the podium. Do you have your credit card ready because finally you canmake some money with your cycling addiction.
And remember, these are professional gambling experts who spend their lives in dark smokey rooms figuring this out — they’re not just lowly cycling fans or deluded director sportifs. This is gospel.
It’s also important to understand that odds mean nothing to Armstrong except as motivational fuel. After beating cancer and winning seven tours, anyone else’s diagnosis is just misguided and uninformed speculation.
In his mind, Lance Armstrong will start the 2010 Tour de France at 1 to 1 odds. “This Tour is different. It’s technical and I’ve already said that I can win it,” said Armstrong recently. The boss has spoken.
The Twisted Spoke line: put your savings on Contador but throw some bones down on Lance, just in case.