Can we redo the seasons? I understand that the seasons are named for the tilting of the planet, but the only people who notice the planet's position are people in the extreme north and south... and maybe a few sunset watchers. For everyone else the seasons connote weather patterns... which in the case of winter started about a month ago. Sorry, I digress. Must be something in that eggnog...
Cycling Quotient has changed my life. The Pro Tour set out to create a competition to show who had the best season, but their curious inclusions (and important future exclusions) have put that competition on life support. Not so the CQ rankings: by including every race, and assigning points relative to the race's significance, they paint a pretty thorough portrait of a rider's season. I've been starting these team reviews exclusively from CQ's points (and wherever else they take me). You can learn a lot by:
- Seeing where a rider's points come from. For example, Wouter Weylandt may not get noticed much, but he's been compiling a pretty fair number of points (not to mention placings) in lesser races that aren't on Boonen's calendar which show his clear and impressive development. Seeing all his results in one place is useful.
- Seeing a rider's results compared to his previous year(s)' results... kind of self-explaining. Just shows the whole picture, and a little insight into what direction things are headed.
- Seeing everyone's points and being able to compare comparable riders. Evans and DiLuca are just barely comparable; but Evans and Menchov are a good match. And the stage sprinters are fun to compare. Etc.
- Seeing a team's entire set of points. Not just the Pro Tour results; all of the big continental nations have an extensive domestic calendar that the big teams ride. If nothing else, it gives you a sense of what it's really like to manage a team. You're not just sitting around waiting for the Giro or Flanders to start; you've got groups of riders headed in all different directions all year long, and if you want guys to get better, you have to structure all those race schedules in a way that helps all your guys get the right opportunities.
- Here's one writer's rankings of the best seasons for cyclo-blogging, in order:
There's no substitute for the energy which flows through the peloton, fans, and therefore the Podium Cafe during the cobbles season or the Giro or the Tour. There's also a lot to be said for winter when, with no races to review or preview, with no riders doing much of anything besides long winter miles, you can sit down and write about anything that comes to mind. As for fall, if you weren't at least somewhat burnt out, I'd like to know what your secret is. Remember when the Vuelta was being mentioned as the most exciting grand tour? Was that only five years ago or so?
- I'm not sure I can muster a full Milram review, but if I did I'd find myself issuing belated respect to Alessandro Petacchi. His 16 wins, plus four classification titles, tops anyone else's total, from what I can see. Quality too: Paris-Tours, several Giro stages, etc. I'm not a huge fan, owing mostly to the way he gets towed to the finish by a huge and dedicated entourage. But let's face it, Milram pays for victories, and he delivers. Assuming inhaler-gate was just a cautionary tale and not a substantive scandal, this was a good season, and only CONI's knuckle-rapping (leading to his Tour exclusion) kept him from a pretty awesome one. He's my 2007 So-Overrated-He's-Underrated Rider of the Year.