By Dennis Young

With the full contingent of American fools now on the ground in Europe, the hottest part of the Diamond League schedule kicks off Thursday night in Lausanne. We’ll have tons of videos once we actually get to Switzerland, but for now, here’s a two-part preview, starting with distance. 

Matt Centrowitz doesn’t have to prove to anyone that skipping the lion's den in Sacramento was worth it, but it would be nice to see him put a scare into his PR of 3:31.96, which came at Lausanne’s Stade de la Pontaise in 2012. He’ll have his hands full with Silas Kiplagat and Taoufik Makhloufi; as always with Diamond League men’s distance races, it will, unfortunately, come down to the quality of the pacing. (We have one hard and fast rule in this coverage series: never, ever mention Makhloufi without linking to this picture or this amazing facebook comment from Asbel Kiprop.)

Editor's Note: rules are meant to be broken

Also, I know Uncle Nick has glorified the gambling aspect of European meets, but I wish the wagers were even juicier: what if there were something along the lines of Kiplagat being favored over Centrowitz by 1.7 seconds, and you could bet on either to cover? Of course, distance runners have been known to fix outcomes when big money is on the line.

After showing questionable form this weekend at USAs, World Champion Chanelle Price and Brenda Martinez look to rebound against the seemingly much sharper Eunice Sum and Jessica Judd. Judd has been called the “Mary Cain of Europe”, but why isn't Mary Cain the "Jessica Judd of America"? As has been extensively chronicled on LetsRun and elsewhere, the women’s 800 is the most wide-open event in the world these days— Sum is clearly the best in the world, but the proletariat is large and not that far from the ruling class of the metric half-mile.

The flat 3k could be the polar opposite of the anarchic 800, as Genzebe Dibaba installed herself as the brutal dictator (funny that there’s no word for “female dictator”) of the event indoors. Hellen Obiri is actually the outdoor world leader, and debatably the clean WR holder, after running a stunning 8:20 in Doha in May. Obiri isn’t running the 3k in Lausanne, but Mercy Cherono and Viola Kibiwot are— both of them beat Dibaba in Doha.

From much of this century, Paul Koech had a similarly iron-fisted grip on Diamond League steeplechasing. But Brimin Kipruto has proven a pesky dissenter in 2014. The Lausanne field is pretty top-heavy, but the definite addition of a certain long-haired homeboy and possible return of current preeminent bad boy of track and field will make the steeple one of the spiciest events this summer as the circuit progresses.

Part 2 will cover what should be a band following this year’s pro circuit: The Supermen (Featuring Everyone Else)

Here are startlists and the IAAF preview.