Rodriguez vs Costa For 2014

Bryn Lennon

How much has Costa gotten into Purito's head?

The Price LIst for the 2014 FSA-DS is coming along nicely, thank you very much. I figured you were starting to wonder about it and what foul atrocities might occur to your favorite riders and let me say now: Hahahahahahahaha! Anyways, here's an interesting comparison that I've looked at from several sides now: who will have a better 2014: J-Rod or Rui Costa?

Last year Purito scored 760 more points than Costa. And-wait a sec-why doesn't Costa have a nickname? And why does he have the same name as his former S L Benfica clubmate, Rui Costa aka The Maestro? And did you know that Benfica's shield (look again at the linky to the team) has two sports on it: a soccer ball in front of a bike wheel?

Sorry for the tangent there. Yeah last year J-Rod was 760 points better, 2520-1760. Will it be any different in 2014?

Why Rodriguez will outscore Costa.

Hey-J-Rod's money. Last four years his VDS point totals have been (from 2010) 2000, 2334, 3837, and 2520. In terms of rider ranking those totals were 4th, 3rd, 1st, and 5th and nowhere was Rui Costa higher ranked or even close to J-Rod's totals.  And for 2014 he's riding the same program he did when he scored that 3837 total.

Why he won't.

Guy will turn 35 years old next May. I figure that to beat Costa, he'll have to score north of 2000 points again. Sounds very doable for Purito except no one has ever done that before. Cadel was the closest I suppose in that he scored 1823 when he was 34. 35 Cadel though scored just 825. Going back to 2008, here's the highest VDS scores (1000+ points)  of riders 35 or more:

  • Horner 2013, age: 40something scored 1440
  • Vino 2010, age 37 scored 1482
  • Petacchi 2010, age 36 scored 1042
  • Leipheimer 2008, age 35, scored 1520
That's all folks. Just to be clear, these four riders scored 1000+ just once after they turned 35. None of them got close to the 2000 that I'm guessing that J-Rod needs to make against Costa next year.  (Oh and Valverde? He's only 34 this year. Seems like he should be older, but there you go.)

So can J-Rod score 2000+ in '14? Maybe. He is a scoring machine after all. But it says here his 1300 point decline from 12 to 13 was just the beginning.

Why Costa will outscore J-Rod.

Besides the age thingy (Costa turns 28 next October) there's the Piti's Bitch* Bounce (PBB). The PBB is what happens when a talented rider who has been on Valverde's team jumps to another team and scores many more points. J-Rod is the poster child for a PBB. His last year riding with Piti, 2009, he scored 871 points. Next year he jumps to Katusha and starts his 2000+ point rampage. Danny Moreno had a delayed PBB cause after leaving Valverde's shadow he jumped to Lotto and those fu...riends wouldn't know what to do with a climby guy if he hit them on the head. (I call JVDB to the stand.) Moreno's last year at Caisse: 315 points. Next year with Lotto: 30 (told ya). Next year at Katusha and every year since: 965, 900, 1365.

How about Big Rig? Uran's last year with Caisse, 2010: 240 points. Jumps to Sky for 2011: 887, 1332, 685. Even last year's bad year was way better than his Caisse best.  Oh-and the PBB can work in reverse to. Just look up JJ Cobo's point totals since landing with Valverde. Speaking of which, Cobo's on a new team this year...

Which brings us to The Maestro, part deux. He joined Valverde's shadow in '09. Point totals since: 190,285, 440, 1332, 1760. Other than Quintana last year, Costa has been the best PP (Piti Protege) ever. (Probably #3 is not J-Rod but Lulu who did a Danny Moreno-esque move, going from Caisse to Rabobank.)  I see no reason why we won't get a nice PBB from him in '14. He's the team leader at Lampre and for the first time gets to set his race schedule where he will always be the protected rider. He should have decent support too. I like the combo of Costa and Ulissi: together they should give other teams hell. There's no Grade A sprinter on the team so no distractions there. Pozzato? Costa's skill set will enhance both in slightly hilly races like GP Ouest France-Plouay. There's some help in the mountains with Niemiec, Serpa, Valls Ferri, and Anacona. On paper this looks like a nice team for him to land on PP (Post Piti). There will be a bounce.

So PBB + entering his prime years = 2000 with 2500 within reach.

* Alas I can't take credit for the phrase Piti's Bitches. For that credit, look north to Sweden.

Why he won't.

FYI: A list of all riders who've scored 2000+ points since 2008 with the number of times in parentheses:  Valverde (3), Contador (3), Nibali (2), Gilbert (2), Farrar, J-Rod (4), Cancellara (2), Wiggins, Sagan (2), Boonen, Froome.

Pretty exclusive group with J-Rod leading it. J-Rod seems as likely a candidate as anyone recently to go over 2000 at age 35, at least until Valverde steps up next year.

And on the other hand, here's a cherry picked list of recent riders who never scored 2000: Cadel, Cav, Samu, Oscarito, Chava, Vino, Hushovd, any Schleck, Basso, Cunego, and HWWNBN. Really, it is hard to score 2000. You can be a great rider and never do it. There's no shame in not breaking that barrier. And for the purposes of Rui Costa until a rider breaks that barrier you can't expect them to just waltz through it. You have to be lucky.

Thus if Costa can't break 2000 the odds of him beating J-Rod's score goes down and fast. J-Rod may well not score 2000 but unless he gets injured and loses the year he'll probably score 1700+. If J-Rod's worst case scenario is as good as Costa's best year so far then who you gonna pick? The Old Guy.

Anything else to say?

What would be cool would be if this race came down to the last race-Lombardia. Like Purito needs to place x number of placings in front of Costa.  Or LBL where they should both be on the short list to win.  After 2013 one thing you can say about Costa is that he knows how to finish. Harder to say that with J-Rod. If they are competing at the end will Costa be in J-Rod's head?

A somewhat hidden advantage that Costa has is even though he won't win Worlds next year with that dumbed down course (and neither will J-Rod), he probably will pick up points. He placed 11th in Copenhagen so expect him to be in the bunch at the end.


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