After all too much talk, a ton of analysis by Ursula, and some of Monty's spreadsheet wizardry, we are ready to formally kick off the Podium Cafe 2009 Virtual Directeur Sportif Competition! Some basics first, and detailed instructions and information on the flip.
What is it? A year-long competition, akin to fantasy sports (with a less creepy name), where you select a team of actual riders and score points based on their performance in real races.
Why would I play? To test your knowledge of cycling; to compete with your fellow Podium Cafe members; or to win a wool Podium Cafe jersey. My favorite reason is that these kind of games really do help you get to know the sport better.
Hm, is this complicated? No, you simply set your team before the February 25, 2009 deadline and we do the rest. We also will run separate competitions specific to the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a Espana, if you don't have time now or don't want to think about the entire season.
Sounds cool. What will it cost me? Nothing, as usual. You only have to be a registered member of the Podium Cafe, and your registration must include a working email. Otherwise, it's free.
Sold. Now what? Turn the page...
How do I assemble a team?
Each team must have 25 riders, no more and -- a frequent misunderstanding -- no less. You will have a budget of 150 points to spend on those 25 riders. Open this spreadsheet and you will see how to form a team:
Column A is the riders, obviously, and column B is their cost. [Columns C and D show the rider's points scored last year, for what it's worth.] At the top of the form, to the right of the first names, you should see the gray box in which you should enter your names. To enter a name, click on the line. You will then see the dropdown menu arrow:
Click on it and you can scroll through the names. You can also type in a name if you prefer; if you spell it correctly the form will accept it and deduct his cost from your budget accordingly. Like any good spreadsheet, no selection is final until you save it and send it in, so happy tinkering.
What restrictions apply?
Not too many:
- 25 riders, no more or less
- Verify that you have spent no more than 150 points
- You can only have one 25-point rider at most.
- You can only have two 20-point riders at most.
- One entry per person.
- You can only use riders from the list. If a name is missing, he's not available. This list is final. It's also very, very long, so disappointments should be minimal.
For strategic advice, click on the Virtual Directeur Sportif section in your menu to see a listing of various discussions, including a great deal of in-depth analysis by the Incomparable Ursula. Also, a few notes on how we changed the costs to affect strategy: last year the prices didn't correlate closely enough with the points. In other words, a typical 10-point rider was scoring much less than half the number of points as a 20-point rider, so the obvious choice was to pick the expensive guys. This year, the prices on a TON of riders have been reduced, particularly riders between 4 and 18 points. This way, spending 24 points on three 8-pointers will probably score something similar to picking a 20-point guy and two 2-pointers. In other words, there should be a lot more pathways to victory this year.
What races will be scored?
If you followed the previous discussions, you know that we will be using almost the same list of races as last year, with several additions and two subtractions. As far as the polled questions go, the majority voted to include the Tour of Poland, BeNeLux Tour (nee. Eneco), 4 Jours de Dunkirque, and to elevate both the Worlds Road Race and Time Trial to "monument"-level status. For more info, go to...
Prizes and Winners
The team with the most points at the end of the calendar is the winner of a Podium Cafe wool jersey which you can see here. We do things a little differently with the grand tours. Every team entered in the yearlong competition will be eligible to win a grand tour only prize, and no further action is needed. If you are not entered in the yearlong game, you may still submit a mini-team and take part in a mini-competition. You won't be eligible for the woolie, but you will get a prize, t/b/d.
As for last year's winners, each year the maker of the wool jerseys receives his stock in January, so I expect to place the orders this week and send them to you in March. If you won one of the grand-tour-only comps and I haven't received your size yet, email me.
How do I submit my entry?
The VD Sentry is back! Fill out your form, give your team a cool name, save your entry, make sure it fits within the rules, and email it to:
Please do so by Wednesday, February 25, Noon pacific time. This is the Wednesday after the Tour of California ends. Also, please note, do not use this email for anything other than VDS 2009 business; for all other matters use the firstname.lastname@example.org address.
Prior to the deadline, if you have submitted an entry, you can make corrections to it. But for simplicity's sake, I would really rather you only submitted your entry once. So, best to wait until we're pretty close to the deadline to make sure nobody is injured. After the deadline, no changes will be allowed for any reason.
What can I do to contribute?
I am gratefully accepting donations of all sizes to the VDS Kitty. 100 percent of your donations in the past have gone to funding the purchase of wool jerseys for the winners of the Yearlong VDS competition, as well as for the winners of the Giro-only, Tour-only and Vuelta-only competitions. To make a donation, please use my paypal account, which is identified by the site email:
I have already received a couple donations, so thank you then and in the future! I also accept donations of cool, pro-cycling-related gear, and try to dispense that gear in smaller competitions. Last year we awarded a set of extremely nice Vredestein tires to the leaders at the 1/3 and 2/3 posts of the year-long comp. We also gave away some nice old pro replica jerseys to grand tour-only participants who had not signed up for the yearlong comp. This year, at a minimum, we will have similar games, and a special contest involving Lance Armstrong. Details later. Anyway, if you want to make a gear donation, please contact me offline.
One last wrinkle...
The Editors and I are experimenting with a small, closed league version of the VDS this year, where riders are drafted instead of purchased, and once a team selects a rider, no other team can have him. I will keep you posted on how it goes. Feel free to start your own private leagues if this strikes your fancy. The reality is you can only have maybe 20 teams per league maximum, so I suspect they won't be as fun to talk about.
Questions? Comments? Have at it!