So, if you're anything like me you've left doing your FSA VDS team till the last minute. Your excuses piled up: "I don't want to pick an injured rider" "I want to see who's in form" "Katusha. UCI. Circus" etc etc but really you've procrastinated and now you're in a jam and you really, really want to put in a competitive team (a dream you'll hold on to until 00:01 on the 22nd when reality hits) but you have no idea how to fit in that n-priced rider you really like who you know will score you big.
Never fear, because here I am with a quick guide with an easy way for you to setup your team. That's right, I said setup, you didn't think I was going to pick the whole team for you, did you? All you have to do is take that 20 minutes you were going to spend on your VDS team anyway and use half of it on reading this guide and the other half relaxing because you've just picked your team. It's simple.
First of all, DONT PANIC. Grab your towel, suck on it and you'll be better for it. Then go read the beer selection thread. Pay attention to any command that says the words ‘drink', ‘beer', ‘shot', ‘carton' then come back. Now your vision should be bifocal, your attention distracted trying to read this and your defences lowered to the power of suggestion so you'll actually do what I suggested which anyone sober would know not to. Oh but they've probably picked their team. There is that... Congrats anyway you're on your way, have another drink, we recommend Leffe.
Now onto the game. Unfortunately at Christmas time Ursula didn't get the cycling socks he really, really wanted. So he decided to take it out on us and he raised up the prices to an insane level that would even make Tony Martin cry. And he's a robot. Still, there's absolutely no need to fear because as any librarian will tell you, history repeats itself. Yes, back in 2010 he didn't get socks either, (although I think he got at least a hex key because he wasn't as bad as this year) and prices were ridiculously mean back then too. So we have history on our side to arm us on the way.
I've looked at the top 21 teams from the VDS that year and sorted out their teams and the cost of their riders into 6 categories. That way we can see the make up of their teams and deduce any patterns from it to use in our team setup. The categories are 24+, 18-22, 14-16, 8-12, 4-6, 1-2. Simple. The results are in the table below:
It's fairly crude, there could indeed be errors but we don't have time! And I'm no amazing wheat-like canine, so you'll have to make do. Onwards!
Next section covers those categories, starting from the most expensive down to the least. You may want to build your team the other way round, in which case, go to the bottom of this article and read up instead of down, you trend-setter, you. Both ways, just click on the link in the header of each category and it will bring up the VDS website and the riders listed with that price filter. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Aaargh OMG, so many riders, what the hell?!?!?! That's probably what you would have been thinking if you'd been properly sober but you've got all that alcohol in your system and I told you not to panic. You're welcome. Now you're just chilled out because this is one of the easiest categories to pick from. Why? Because you can only pick one of them. That's right; one. That's a middle finger raised or half a Cavendish victory salute. There's no extra rider to fit in here, just one.
You want to take that one rider too. To get a high a score you need points in the bank and only the riders in this category are going to deliver those insanely high scores. Pick who you think will cash you the most points. Maybe form an alternate team with one 30+ rider and another with a 24 point rider but just pick one. Do it!
Some DSers may not have a 24+ rider in their team and in 2010 4/21 top teams didn't so it's not imperative but it does help, a lot, and only those with saddle sores of steel won't pick one this year but you're not in that group because you're reading this. Derr. As omne would say, drink and move on to the next section.
Select: 1 Rider
This category has rider restrictions like the one above but that's about where the similarities end. Technically, you can pick three riders from here but technically, Andy Schleck is a TDF winner. Yeah, ridiculous. What's more absurd is the number of riders in this category this year. There's less than the 24+! Eleven riders, that's so low I can count it on my fingers.
2010 shows that most teams picked one or two riders from this category but really, not to diminish the reputation or palmares of those in this category, but unless you are absolutely sure one of these guys is going to usurp half the players in the category above by the end of the season, then you're probably better ignoring the group altogether.
Pick one if you're absolutely positive he'll shine but two will be too much, all the value is lower down. Just save your points, you will need them. Its good ammunition anyway to laugh and deride me with during the season as these guys all have career years. It is known.
Select: 1 Rider
Flexible Selection Range (FSR): 0-1
We're well on our way now, how confident are we? This group is definitely better stacked and look at all the youngsters! Riders from here will explode for sure. If we look at 2010 a lot of people had one or two riders from this group, with a couple of teams with 4. We're getting to the stage now we're we starting looking at the balance and whether we need to go for the cheaper riders in each group.
You definitely need at least one rider from here but I'd go with two, especially if you already skipped on one of the restricted riders above, and those people may even take three, if this section is to your fancies. By this stage in 2010 most teams had four riders, these are considered your elite riders and they'll do the bulk of your scoring. There's value in both prices, so look for as your needs want.
Select: 2 riders
FSR: 1-3 riders
This category has the privilege of being the one with the broadest price scale apart from the open 24+ one. It's also important as who you pick will be largely based on not just who you've been spending all your points on above, but also who you plan to spend points on below. It is likely you'll come back here to make adjustments so choose your riders carefully but have plenty of backup options. With 70 riders to peruse, this shouldn't be that big a problem.
Ideally, if we're using the top teams in 2010 as a guide, you'll be picking 3 riders but do note that the top 5 actually all had a different number from this group (1-5 riders) so it's by no means set. Find what works for you but for the team of balance, that we're striving for so it's three.
Select: 3 riders
FSR: 2-5 riders
Penultimate category now and these are the middle-class bargains and you're looking for really good value here with nearly a hundred riders to choose. This is actually the category with the biggest fluctuation in terms of riders selected from the top teams in 2010. So if it's any guide then it means it may be the least important category priority wise, which is not to say that individual riders in there are not important!
Despite the high fluctuation, most teams fall between the 4-7 mark, as seen in the table so your best bet is to find four-five you're really keen on and then any extra that catch your eye. Just know by now you should see how many spots you have left over and points remaining, because that all goes into the next category, so you should at least be semi-planning that. Otherwise, square pegs don't in circular jigsaw puzzles. Maybe that's why I sucked at them...
Select: 5 riders
FSR: 4-7 riders
Here we are, the cheapest riders and arguably the most important to get right. Regardless of the year, the strategy with these is not so much getting everyone scoring but making sure you have enough that you have picked those that breakout. You will need a lot of these riders and they may likely make up over half your team. A lot of the top teams before had a donut or two but of course, they also had the rider or two that helped them get their lofty position.
It is important now in our study to breakdown the 1s and 2s further so we can see how they differ.
As you can see by the MAX and MIN there's a lot of variations but generally it all averages out to 13 riders from this group with a 7/6 split depending. This is also where points left over come into play. Because you have already picked the rest of your riders you are now defined now in which cost group your riders will come from. Just look at this table:
For example, if you have been following our format you likely have 13 riders to choose. If you have only 20 points remaining, to use up all your points you must choose 7 two-pointers and 6 one points. Thus getting your team to 25 riders and 150 points.
Picking the ride personnel here is imperative. If you don't want to compromise on a set of good riders here, then you will have to change one of your riders above. That is why I suggested some may wish to start from this category ("the ground up") that way they have this group out the way early. Personally, I think there are so many great 2pt riders that I'm looking to get as many as I can into my team.
Select: 13 riders
FSR: 10-15 riders
So there we have it by now you should have an absolutely ripper looking team and it should equal 150 points. If you followed the strategy in this guide your team will now look like this:
Which should hold you in good stead to be competitive throughout the year. Obviously, you don't have to stick to this guide to the letter, if the variations in teams has shown us anything its that but you can change it about which is what the Flexible Selection Rating is for but it should serve you as a good spine to help select your team easily in the time remaining.
So yeah, whew, you're all done! This is only half the battle though; you've found the way towards perfect setup, now you have to pick the riders. Context is key, some categories may work better this year than 2010, just attribute what you now know about the riders and apply it to this guide. Go! I think Ursula is getting jumpy and please, for the love of all things fantasy cycling, someone send him a decent pair of cycling socks next year for Christmas. We'd all appreciate it.
Good luck all.