Restart training, November 1: check. Informal camp with new Discovery Channel team in Austin, early December: check. Four-hour rides in the Texas hill country: check. Two-hour weight-training sessions: check. Lance Armstrong's winter doesn't look much different from those of the past six years, the years in which he set an early course for July's Tour de France and won it every time. You might think he'd be a bit more relaxed this winter, what with that record-sixth-win monkey off his back.
But, Lance told me recently, "it's a full-time, 12-month commitment." So what's all this training leading up to? He won't say yet whether he'll attempt an unprecedented seventh Tour de France win, but, considering his other plans, it's likely. "I will not be riding the Giro d'Italia," he announced to me. He calls Italy "a country where it's apparently illegal to race your bike," referring to ongoing legal snarls with Italian rider Filippo Simeoni. Instead, Lance says, he'll focus first on Europe's spring classics. "I'm really inspired to do a good Tour of Flanders," he says. "It's a beautiful race and truly one of the hardest of the year. People don't expect me to win that one." Indeed, its mostly flat course is more challenging for Lance because it doesn't allow him to crush rivals on mountains the way he does on the Tour. But, "He's definitely capable of it," says Chris Carmichael, Lance's coach since 1991.
Then again, what isn't he capable of? Here are the five keys to being a winner, Lance Armstrong-style.