First off, we are coming down to a thrilling conclusion this weekend with several teams in the running for the first prize of the year, the King/Queen of the Classics prize. While I vow to officially update the standings on a weekly basis only, I can tell you that the Saint still leads... just. And with some new (old) teams (back) in the picture:
- Saint 4337
- BornFromJets 4247
- Bike Game 4241
- Two teams (Davis Wheelworks, 1000 Islanders) in the 4100-4200 range
- Four others (Slipshod Hauenstein, Lactic Euphoria, Gunners, So. Berk Flahutes) in the 4000-4100 range.
The last event is Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a monument, where the VDS scoring is 20-deep and goes 350-300-275-250-225; 200-175-150-125-100; and so on. There are a ton of points on the table Sunday. These teams, and at least another half dozen just under 4000, are all in the running.
On another note, we (OK, Ursula) have been checking in regularly on which riders are bargains and flops. Now with some of the Grand Tour guys racking up classics points, the picture is becoming a little better developed. After this week, the standings will be heavily influenced by the Grand Tours, so a quick look at the top riders -- and their grand tour chances -- lends some insight:
- Tom Boonen, Alessandro Ballan, Paolo Bettini... Losers! OK, not in any real sense (stop typing angry comment please). But these are three top-priced guys who won't be scoring a ton of points from here on out. Boonen will be a green jersey contender/favorite, but he's a good 500 points behind where us Boonen owners wanted him to be right now. Bettini might still make a late run, but 35 points from his spring campaign is awful. Ballan? He's an April guy, and next year should move down in price a bit.
- Fabian Cancellara, Oscar Freire, Sammy Sanchez... Meh. I know, we all love Tony Spartacus Cancellegend, but how he adds to his nice spring haul is a mystery. Boonen, whom I just called a loser, probably passes him at the end of the Tour. Freire, same. He's 100 points behind Boonen and an unlikely points jersey winner, though you can't rule out stages and maybe a jersey. His customary World Championship isn't looking very certain, though maybe he'll be the guy in the Olympics. Sanchez might win the Vuelta, but I doubt it, and zero... that's a crap spring.
- Contador, Evans, Kirchen, Cunego... Chapeau! The Kid could be a huge bargain, given that he's likely to pad his tidy 665 points Sunday, and has a decent chance of a high grand tour placing. Kirchen, a cheaper alternative (and 200 points behind the Kid), could do the same. Contador and Evans are two huge GT favorites who've already pocketed over 400 points.
One last point: if you really want to know the peloton, play this game. Play one of the grand tour events, or join the year-long contest next year. An illustration: I wouldn't have known Christian Pfannenberger, Serguey Ivanov, or several others who've scored minor points this week. Now I know: they're climbers, at least in the Ardennes, maybe in the grand tours. The Game makes you think about a lot of guys who aren't necessarily in the spotlight. For me, at least, that mental image sticks, and I'll remember them from now on.