Ursula and I held a brief discussion in the ATOC Post Race chatter yesterday about strategies concerning the picking or non-picking of specific racers based on their assigned point value, how many points they generated last year and for what reason, and what value they might contribute this year.
It's all a waste of time*. In the end, I know squat about most of these guys. You know, and I know, I'm not hardcore in my knowledge of cycling. I didn't know who Joop Zoetemelk was until Chris accused me of having picked him last season to round out my roster of riders over the age of 63.
Let me delve then into the process of how the average Juergen can hope to fill out their 25 roster spots.
Ok... get the easy stuff out of the way first...
Q: Are you an American?
A: Yes - well, then you've already picked George Hincapie. This is a requirement of citizenship (I'm serious... I have a Filipino friend that recently took the US Citizenship exam and question number 8 was "What is the greatest priviledge of United States Citizenship?" [serving on a jury] and question number 9 was "Who must you always carry on your VDS team roster?" [George Hincapie]). See how easy that is? Boom, one roster spot filled, 142 points left to spend.
A: No - not to worry, there are formulae for this eventuality too. Do you mistakenly spell the word "Color" as "Colour"? You crave Cavendish. Do you feel New Zealanders are cute if somewhat provincial? Embrace O'Grady. Do you know what a Txapela is? Txoose Txurruka! Simplicity itself!
Ok, we've got our Nationality requirement out of the way. Now lets get into some of the nitty gritty...
Q: Do you suspect that Drew has picked the rider you are considering?
A: Yes - this rider should then not be included anywhere on your roster. In fact, due to the bleed over effect of Drew's picks, you really should steer clear of anyone immediately above or below that rider's name when sorted alphabetically.
A: No - Mazeltov! You've just filled another roster spot! Unless you mis-judged and didn't realize that Juan Antonio Flecha will still be on Drew's VDS teams in 2034, you are looking fantastic!
Q: How can I maximize the effectiveness in the area of Belgian versus Ardennes style classics?
A: Did you not read the top of this post? I just like seeing the bright jerseys rolling by. One of those involves a lot of beer and the other one involves a lot of beer and occasional forests.
Q: Do you love cancer?
A: Yes - HWMNBN is certainly not going to appear anywhere on your team. Unless you really, and I mean really, have a thing for cancer, in which case you'll pick HWMNBN so that when HWMNBN fails to crack the top 10 in the Giro you can gloat gleefully at your reverse psychological voodoo hoodoo. The rest of us will also thank you for having blown 20 points strictly on vindictive principal. By the way, why do you love cancer?
A: No - Hope Rides Again! You washed the blue pill down with the Kool-aid, took the box of yellow chalk and scribbled WE LOVE YOU HWMNBN on the Prologue course in Sacratomato. 20 points is your donation in the fight against cancer!
Q: Is Contador really worth 25 points?
A: Yes. That doesn't mean you can afford him. Really, we know you better than you think; you shouldn't be allowed to own nice things... or sharp objects.
Q: Is Valverde really worth 25 points?
A: That depends on how much piti you have for the poor guy.
Q: To what degree should I incorporate possible Operacion Puerto fallout into my roster planning?
A: Don't even try. Speaking as someone who got burned because he picked a rider who took a spritz too many from his asthma inhaler last year, trying to accomodate the whims of the UCI, ASO, USADA, NAMBLA or CONI is a futile effort. Que CERA my friends, que CERA.
Q: Boonen or Hushovd?
A: This is far more complicated than it might appear. Let me break it down for you: both have high Green Jersey potential in the tour, both are ravenous pack sprinters, both have stated that they intend to focus strongly on the Spring Classics. Once you really, deeply and clearly appreciate the situation, the essential decision you have to make is this: Do you like Laminate Flooring or Overpriced Bicycles? Now, young grasshopper, isn't that a far easier decision?
Q: Damiano Cunego?
A: That's not a question. That's a proper noun, in this case a name, with a question mark inanely appended to make it look like a question. Who the hell are you, Bryant Gumbel? Go learn grammar then get back to me.
Q: Ok, I've got 22 roster spots filled, but now I've got -3 points to spend. Where do I make sacrifices so that I can gain back the six points I need to fill the remaining three with one pointers?
A: Re-read that question; it actually makes sense. If you haven't encountered this dilemma yet, then you really haven't tried hard enough to build a team. Look at the amount of 12 pointers you have. Look at the 10 pointers. Do you have Danilo Di Luca? If your name is "Chris..." then that would explain it; if not, then I know where you have fat to trim.
Q: How do I pick one pointers to fill out the remaining roster spots?
A: Use the "board" methodology. Dart or Ouija; the choice is yours.
I hope this guide has been helpful. I know the trials and tribulations that can be associated with the generation of a VDS team. I only want to try to make it a little easier for those sitting on the fence to participate.
[begin honesty]If you're a lurker this is a great way to come out of the shadows and join in the Podium Cafe fun. If you're looking for a way to get more familiar with the riders, I highly recommend this as a way to do it too. Half way through your team selection, I can guarantee you'll have four wikipedia pages open, scanning race results, examining who is on whomelses team and what Andre Greipel's chances are of pulling out stage wins. It's a lot of fun and there are people here who are more than happy to help if you get stuck; just pop into one of the threads and ask (although you may want to avoid doing so in live threads).[end honesty]
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE! (except Jens)
[ed: *Let me be clear... For me, Crashdan, pouring over statistics and team interactions is a waste of time. Because I am lazy, at work, suffering from caffeine deficiency and am overly obsessed with the Solvang Time Trial. I actively encourage anyone wishing to spend the time delving into either the grand scope of things or the minutiae to read through any of the magnificent articles posted by Majope and Ursula here :) ]