Well it was another exciting year for the Full Speed Ahead/ FSA Directeur Sportif year-long fantasy contest. The Podium Cafe's very own brand of theoretical fun, brought to you by the makers of Peter Sagan's wheels (and other quality gear), capped off its sixth (? I think?) season of tremendous achievement in the field of excellence. Also, we had our fantastickest finish ever, at least on the men's side. Let's run through our various categories. Unlike past years I won't try to assemble bios for the winners, but will
sandbag ask them by this post to login and share their stories in the comments section.
Men's FSA Directeur Sportif
- A Tale of Two Schleckies, DS: MB2612, 14,478 points
- Team Thundersnow, DS: Lieutenantmudd, 14,067
- You'll See Sagan Make a Slaughter, DS: attackagain!, 13,950
Several lessons can be learned from this. First, it pays to make fun of the Schlecks. I think we all knew that.
Secondly, it pays to play for the full calendar, or at least it can. Because what happened in the final three weeks of the season is nothing short of stunning. To wit, on September 27, I posted an update on the standings, talking about how it was coming down to the wire for all three podium slots, noting that the top ten were separated by only 1200 points, with four more teams within 1300 of the lead. I then doing a little projecting as to who really had a shot. [If you're key is Sagan and you're below three other teams that have Sagan, you don't have a shot.] Apart from Peter Sagan, who was on all of the top ten teams, I mentioned several riders who could make a difference, by being guys on form and not on every team.
On that day, sitting just off the top ten, was A Tale of Two Schleckies, holding a few potential cards in Diego Ulissi (whom I mentioned), along with Rafal Majka, Nacer Bouhanni and Alejandro Valverde, whom I more or less ignored. Not featured on Schleckies was one Slovak roof-riding uber-stud, young Peter Sagan. So the idea of making up over 1300 points on the top teams, without Sagan's help, was laughable. Laughable, I tell you!
And now we know what happened: Ulissi and Majka went berserk. Majka, already sitting on over 600 points (after scoring 55 last year), racked up another quick 400 at Lombardia (3rd) and Milano-Torino (2nd). Ulissi, who had already surpassed his 2012 total of 440 points, proceeded to rack up 550 more at Coppa Sabatini, Milano-Torino, and Emilia -- all wins. Bouhanni, meanwhile, won the Tour de Vendee and two stages (plus a second at the Tour of Beijing -- a cool 200 points. And Valverde kept up his antics, taking 300 more points with a second at Lombardia. Daniel Martin quietly added 395 points in October, from Lombardia and Beijing. Franco Pellizotti another 400 (the four Italian events). Over 2000 points in those two-plus weeks. [And yes, before you go and complain about Cat-6 races, note that Schleckies had the #s 2, 3, 4, 8, and 10 finishers at Lombardia.]
In the end, all the Sagan-oriented teams could do is tip their caps. A performance like this doesn't happen often. It's the FSA DS equivalent of Gilbert's 2009 campaign.
But at least several teams put up a good fight. Team Thundersnow retained its top ranking among all teams not named "Schleckies," thanks to Majka and Bouhanni, plus the contributions of Sagan helping to keep any other non-Sagan teams out of the picture.
Speaking of the President of Fastvakia, the battle for the final podium spot went to You'll See Sagan Make a Slaughter, jumping up two spots from fifth at the last check, on the strength of Majka's and Ulissi's fast finishes. This created our toughest-luck story of the year, that of Sebastiandeluded, who gets an honorable mention and sympathy vote for coming fourth, after finishing 9th last season. Ninth... then fourth... gotta like where this is going.
Women's FSA Directeur Sportif
- I Love Lucy, DS: Straw Dog, 18,673 points
- Burghardt's Glorious Girls, DS: Davey H, 18,302
- SlipStreamTeam, DS: Aait Verdan, 18,284
Remarkably enough, Straw Dog defends his title from 2012, making him our first two-time winner! Even more remarkably, he moved up from second to overtake SlipStreamTeam, despite there only being one race to go since the last checkin -- the Worlds' road race -- and despite missing on the top two finishers (Vos and EmmaJo). He did this despite the team he had to beat holding the runner-up, Johanssen. How? By having the #s 3, 4, 6, 7 and 9 finishers on his roster. Booyah!
Kudos also to Davey H and Burghardt's Glorious Girls. They came from over 400 points back, hitting on #s 3, 4 and 8 in the last event, to squeek out an 18 point advantage for second. And well done Aait Verdan, your SlipStreamTeam was a leader of the pack for most of the year. The awesome season turned in by Ellen van Dyk almost made it happen.
And Since You Asked... The Editors' League Final Standings
This is gonna leave a mark...
|5.||Mr Van P||119||6233||52.4||5228||43.9|
That's a tad confusing, but the second column from the right shows the 2013 scoring totals. Women continue to dominate the standings, this after UMWolverine's dominant win last year. And that would be fine... if it weren't Gavia, who swore off the whole concept of fantasy leagues in 2012, only to come back (for the conversation) and chalk up a wire to wire win. Don't get me wrong, I like Gavia -- solid person, excellent writer, likes cats, very respectable sustained w/kg. But having your plate cleaned by someone who said they weren't even hungry... well, that hurts more than a little. Let's call it a four on the Wong-Baker pain scale.
Drafting 11th (of 24 teams), Jen hit on pick after pick, or at least the first three (Nibali, Chavanel, Dan Martin). Other moments of clarity among the staff:
- Drew picking Horner (1450 points) in the 11th round, #258 overall. Pure luck, of course -- his two earlier picks were David Veilleux and Jimmy Engoulvent (83 combined points) -- but still.
- UMWolverine, continuing to pay more attention than most of us, nabbed Majka in round 8. Unfortunately she picked Taylor Phinney in the first round, going down with that rather crowded ship. In draft leagues, you can't win in the first round, but you can definitely lose.
- Resident media moguls and Cali climbing aces Kos and Blez both showed up big in round 6, taking Richie Porte (1279 points) and Michele Scarponi (1002), respectively. Kos also scored with Daniel Moreno in round 4, part of his fuck-you strategy after being handed the dreaded 23rd slot in the draft, a strategy that only backfired with Andy Schleck, putting him in good company (Bjarne Riis, Flavio Becca, etc). A very defiant performance otherwise. Blez, meanwhile, showed that being generous and giving second chances (to Italian scofflaws) can be good for the bottom line. And that you can't win anything big with Tony Martin as your captain.
- Tifosa, a very strong second overall, nailed several picks, including Valverde in round 1 (points are points), Betancur in round 3, and Kwiatkowski in round 4. That's three guys north of 1000 points, with only Robert Gesink being a predictable but comforting meh.
- Oh, and Albertina got Nairo Quintana in round three, literally one slot before I was going to take him. In my anguished state I proceeded to light my draft strategy on fire, taking Damiano Cunego instead. Because fuck all you guys, that's why.
If you think I'm all like boo-hoo over this season, all I can tell you is that I beat my two closest competitors, geographically speaking. RC Speed, who lives three blocks away, saw his Sagan-fueled campaign fall 33 points of Evil Incorporated (a/k/a Team Nairo). Also, DS Little Bear, who lives under my roof, took too much of my advice and finished near the bottom. On the plus side, he doesn't really watch cycling.