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VDS One Month On: Who's Hot, Who's Not?

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Virtual-ds-2_mediumOkay, folks--we've had a whole month of VDS now. 184 riders have scored a total of 20,363 points. Up at the top of the ranks sit the 30 highest-scoring riders...let's take a look at how they compare to last year's performance. Both Top 30 lists are included at the end of the post.

Note: due to scheduling shenanigans, I've added in Gent-Wevelgem to last year's points, even though it didn't happen until later in April. That will help give a clearer picture of how the new Cat 6 races are affecting things.

Hot! 6 Riders who have upped their game by 300+ points compared to last year at this time

1. Oscar Freire, +400. Not a surprise here--Oscarito was injured last year in the Tour of California, and had scored bupkis at this point. He's a bit behind 2008, when he won 3 stages and the points jersey at Tirreno, Gent-Wevelgem, and came in 8th in MSR, but not too far off.

2. Luca Paolini +375 Not a win yet, only a couple of podiums at Driedaagse--but consistent performance in the classics so far, with 10th places at MSR and G-W, plus 6th at Dwars door Vlaanderen. One to keep an eye on.

3. Maxim Iglinsky +355 Won Eroica, top tens in G-W and MSR, plus 4th overall at Tirreno. Great spring so far.

4. Matti Breschel +325 His best result has been winning Dwars door Vlaanderen, but also picked up points in G-W and MSR.

5. Jens Keukeleire +325 Poster child for the new Cat 6 races--every single one of his points has been scored in this category. Last year, he wouldn't have been a blip on the VDS radar.

6. Michael Rogers +315 Podium at Eroica and in the overall at Criterium International. Decent result in Tirreno. It's not that he wasn't getting results last spring--3rd overall in the Tour of California--that just didn't count for anything back then.

Brrr! Who's stone-cold? Find out below the jump.

Ice, Ice, Baby! 5 Riders who have dropped 300+ points compared to last year

1. Sylvain Chavanel -468 By this time last year, he'd picked up points in KBK, Paris-Nice, DdV, and E3. This year: de rien. It's not like he's been absent--he's been hanging around consistently in the top 20-30 of the major races, but has yet to finish in the points. There's hope.

2. Thor Hushovd -435 There's always hope when it comes to the God of Thunder, and it's not quite as bad as it looks. Last year at this time he'd scored in just 3 races: a win, a 3rd, and a 4th in Het Nieuwsblad, MSR, and E3 respectively. This year, he's got a pair of 6ths in MSR and KBK. Not so far out of the money, really, if a bit disappointing points-wise.

3. Mark Cavendish -405 Cav's dental problems took the bite out of his early season, but he's recently returned to winning. Not in time to figure in MSR, which was a huge blow to his VDS season, but the Manx Missile is firing again.

4. Heinrich Haussler -310 Oh, Barbie. Started off with a promising 2nd place in the Omloop, then fell victim to knee problems and is out of the classics entirely. The world mourns.

5. Marcus Burghardt -310 Like Chavanel, only worse. He's been up in the top 30 in a couple of important races, but less consistently. And not a point so far.

Cool, man, cool. 6 who get credit for consistency: all are in the Top 30 for both years, and within 100 points of last year's total--guys to keep in mind when planning next year's spring campaign.

1. Tom Boonen 570 last year vs. 540 this year. He doesn't have to win, as long as he tries.

2. Luis Leon Sanchez 290 vs. 316. He's a lulu of a stage racer, isn't he?

3. Michele Scarponi 238 vs. 296. Tirreno IS his spring. Expect to see him again in the Giro, then say goodbye.

4. Filippo Pozzato 345 vs. 290. He's scored in 5 races so far--that's a lot. Actually making the podium in one of them would be even better.

5. Daniele Bannati 321 vs. 275. Benna's not just a pretty face. He does pretty well when Cav's got a toothache.

6. Alessandro Petacchi 325 vs. 265. Virtually identical to last year--handful of points at Tirreno, followed by a top 5 at MSR (this year, the podium).

A word about 1-point riders and Cat 6 racers. Off screen, ursula expressed interest in the fact that there are currently five1-point guys in the top 30. That's almost twice as many as last year. And 54 1-pointers have scored, compared with 45 last year at this time. Is there a resurgence of youth, or are we just seeing the effect of a bunch of minor races thrown into the VDS pool?

I'm gonna say the latter. Subtract out the points from Cat 6 races, and we're back to 3 1-pointers in the top 30. Keukeleire, as I mentioned above, would lose all of his points--as would a total of 7 of the 20 best-scoring 1-point riders. Cat 6 and 1-pointers: like mussels and Leffe.

How are the Cat 6 races affecting the top of the pile? Not so much. So far this year, 20,363 VDS points have been awarded, compared to 17,823 last year (including Gent-Wevelgem). That's 2,540 more points awarded--but our Top 30 is only 418 points ahead of last year's. Considering that the Top 30 is hogging nearly half (about 47.7%) of all of the points awarded so far, those 418 don't seem to be adding a ton to the total. Which, really, is about what you'd expect: the top riders aren't going to be targeting the sort of minor races that we added this year. But they're a great place for your 1-point guys to shine.

Top 30 after 3 Daagse de Panne 2010 (includes team and cost)

1, QST    Tom Boonen    22    540
2, AST    Maxim Iglinskiy    6    535
3. ASA    Luca Paolini    10    500
4. SKY    Juan Antonio Flecha    8    480
5. RAB    Oscar Freire Gomez    10    400
6. ASA    Stefano Garzelli    14    360
7. THR    Bernhard Eisel    4    350
8. AST    Alberto Contador Velasco    32    348
9. KAT    Filippo Pozzato    18    345
10. SAX    Matti Breschel    16    340
11. OLO    Philippe Gilbert    28    325
12. LAM    Alessandro Petacchi    14    325
13. COF    Jens Keukeleire    1    325
14. LIQ    Daniele Bennati    12    321
15. THR    Michael Rogers    8    315
16. GRM    Tyler Farrar    20    300
17. GCE    Alejandro Valverde Belmonte    32    290
18. GCE    Luis Leon Sanchez Gil    12    290
19. GRM    David Millar    4    290
20. CSF    Sacha Modolo    1    290
21. SAX    Fabian Cancellara    28    280
22. KAT    Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver    14    265
23. CTT    Thor Hushovd    24    250
24. VAC    Bobbie Traksel    1    250
25. TSV    Sep Vanmarcke    1    250
26. BMC    Cadel Evans    28    245
27. AND    Michele Scarponi    8    238
28. VAC    Björn Leukemans    4    225
29. AND    Francesco Ginanni    1    225
30. COF    Rein Taaramäe    10    220

2009 Top 30 after Driedaagse (incl. G-W)

1. CTT    Thor Hushovd    16    685
2. QST    Tom Boonen    20    570
3. THR    Mark Cavendish    20    515
4. CTT    Heinrich Haussler    2    510
5. AST    Alberto Contador    25    473
6. QST    Sylvain Chavanel    12    468
7. THR    Thomas Lovkvist    14    355
8. THR    Edvald Boasson Hagen    6    330
9. GCE    Luis Leon Sanchez Gil    6    316
10. THR    Marcus Burghardt    4    310
11. SDA    Michele Scarponi    N    296
12. KAT    Filippo Pozzato    14    290
13. LIQ    Daniele Bennati    18    275
14. SAX    Jens! Voigt    6    270
15. LPR    Alessandro Petacchi    4    265
16. RAB    Juan Antonio Flecha    8    255
17. RAB    Denis Menchov    16    250
18. QST    Allan Davis    4    250
19. RAB    Tom Leezer    1    250
20. SIL    Greg Van Avermaet    14    240
21. CTT    Andreas Klier    2    240
22. SAX    Frank Schleck    16    225
23. MRM    Fabian Wegmann    4    225
24. LIQ    Frederik Willems    2    220
25. QST    Stijn Devolder    14    215
26. ASA    Stefano Garzelli    4    205
27. SAX    Karsten Kroon    6    200
28. AGR    Kevyn Ista    2    200
29. LIQ    Alexandr Kuschynski    1    200
30. AST    Andreas Kloden    8    196