One of the unfortunate aspects of web-based existence is that when a project is going on behind the scenes, 99% of us would have no idea. Well, quiet as things may have seemed, the reality is that we have made tremendous progress on the 2010 VDS. One member of our community is actually designing the application we will use to run the show. And what a show it will be... fully automated except for race results, which themselves should be incredibly easy to input and cause us to have full-on VDS updates within minutes after a race. Minutes! Or that's the plan. Anyway, this is going to be a humongous step forward.
Continued on the flip...
Second, the dates: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will be our season opener, as has traditionally been the case. Again, apologies to our Australian friends for not being able (logistically) to capture the TdU; perhaps we can think creatively about how to score that next time. It's not personal... and I'll even sing Waltzing Matilda to prove it. Anyway, we are planning to open the competition February 1, with a deadline sometime on February 26, the day before the Omloop.
Next, you've probably already seen info regarding our new, beefy race calendar, designed to capture every race that matters much and result in the all-new Podium Cafe World Rankings. If not, familiarize yourself before February, because these races will decide the VDS. Perhaps not as much as in past years (more in a moment), but the lesser results that were harder to anticipate often make the difference between coming close on the VDS table and pulling away.
Why they might not matter as much? Well, here's some insight into our new rider pricing philosophy: we went expensive this time around. Last year we cut prices, which had the general effect of the better-known, safer-bet cyclists being more affordable. The idea was to make for some hard choices: if you could have a lot of great options, presumably people would come out with widely varied teams. This worked better at distributing the lower level guys, but did nothing to solve the redundancy regarding the top riders. Seemingly everyone had Contador, Andy Schleck, Cavendish, and a few others. Way too many teams looked alike, if only because serious fans all had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the top 20% of the peloton.
Now, prices have gone back up. Here's a sampling of the top few echelons:
- Contador, Valverde: 32 points
- Cancellara, Cavendish, Evans, Gilbert: 28 pts
- Boasson Hagen, Sanchez, ASchleck, Hushovd: 24 pts
- Boonen, Menchov: 22 pts
- Cunego, Farrar, Gesink: 20 pts
And so forth. Same budgets as before: 150 points for 25 riders. We will add in some additional restrictions on the number of big-name riders per team, details later. Anyway, everyone who scored well this year will cost you next time. It's the new economy -- tighten your belt and start hunting for bargains! This will make things a bit harder on casual fans, but then luck is always a big factor. Ask Megabeth. And the real purpose is, I hope, a whole slew of teams that bear little resemblance to one another. I really believe this will make things more fun. Last year was great, but it simply isn't terribly exciting to see your guy win when 85 other teams got the same points. Anyway, here's your link [Updated!]:
Please peruse at leisure or scan carefully for any and all potential problems. Those would be: misspellings; missing riders; wrong teams; and riders listed twice. Missing riders are a special case -- if a guy isn't on the list, you can't draft him. If there is someone you'd like but don't want to broadcast your interest, email the name to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with something like "missing rider" in the subject line. I'll fwd it to Ursula.
Which reminds me: if you don't like the new points, blame Ursula. OK, several of us had a hand in the new listing. And as usual, while we like how we worked stuff out, we are open for now to some debate. If you want to propose a different price, discuss in the comments. But! We will not change pricing because you have a hunch about a guy. We set prices based on what the rider did last year, plus some objectively knowable stuff about why 2010 might be different. We try not to adjust prices because a guy looks like he's about to break out or collapse; otherwise you'd have a list of guys in the order that the editors like them, as opposed to one based in reality. So if you want to propose a new price, let us know what objective criteria (like, change in team; he was injured last year but is now healthy; etc.) argue in favor of a new price.