As discouraging as my VDS team's "performance" has been (two temporary suspensions, three cobbles aces with zero points, etc.), I still find it enjoyable to spectate on how the season is progressing. And one particular plotline I will continue relishing is Boonen vs. Cancellara: the Virtual Smackdown!
Fabian Cancellara may think he's getting the last laugh, but where it really matters (our fantasy game) it may be Tom Boonen or his owners who laugh(s) loudest. Right now these two rank 1-2 in points, with Boonen's consistency outpacing Cancellara's wins by 85 points. Every VDS team currently placing in the top ten has one rider or the other, or even both. The teams with both are on thin ice, since they spent 50 points and used their 24+ chit without landing a grand tour rider from the upper classes, though that chapter remains unwritten. Anyway, as between the teams with one of them and a grand tour ace, which of Cancellara or Boonen does more from here on out will heavily influence the ultimate race. Let's peer into the crystal ball for a moment...
On the flip. Warning, there may be math.
For Boonen owners, you have the following to look forward to:
- A green jersey at the Tour would be worth 120 points, with 90 for second, 60 for third, etc. Holding green for a day is good for 10 points, which can add up over three weeks. Grabbing yellow is worth 20. Not sure Tommeke is the favorite but he should be in the mix. A guess? Second for green, 90 points.
- Stage wins at the Tour go 80-50-35-20-10. Again, I am not guaranteeing any wins, but he's been good for the odd sprint win in past Tours. A guess? 150 points shouldn't be a big stretch.
- These same scores apply for the Vuelta. I imagine Boonen's plans are unsettled here, but with a flattish worlds I think you can expect a Vuelta appearance. He's been to the last three, and scored his share of points to boot. Perhaps a more focused (coke-nonsense-free) Tour will mean he skips the Vuelta, but I doubt it. A guess? 180 total, no final jersey but he could hold it before he drops out.
- Oh, the world championship is worth 350. Same scoring as a monument, in case he comes close again. Lotta points. He should be in the mix for a placing, possibly a high one. A guess? 150 for 9th place.
- Belgian championships? Who else would you pick? A guess? 0. He's the top pick but betting the field is safer.
- Paris-Tours? Can't rule it out. He was 10th last year. A guess? 180 for third place.
- Tour of Belgium is a cat-6 in May, some possible cheap points if it's in his program. Eneco Tour is in August and is a slightly more lucrative cat 5. GP de Wallonie could replace the Franco-Belge Tour in his worlds warmup. A guess? Another 200 points in stage and final placings.
For Cancellara owners, the potential future includes...
- Tour of California: I don't actually like his chances in stage 7, the LA time trial, if Tony is still rounding into form. A prologue would have been easy pickings, but he might be a bit tired by then, particularly coming from overseas, and facing a bevvy of American chronomen. A guess? Bubkis.
- Tour de Suisse: There was some grousing last year that the course was kept too easy for Cancellara's benefit. This year looks at least a little beefier. Chances of him winning this major stage race aren't good. Chances of a stage win are a mortal lock. A guess? 120 points from various sources.
- Suisse nats: in the bag. Definitely one title, maybe two. 100 points each. A guess? 100 for the ITT.
- Le Tour: The opening time trial is only 8.9km. He'll win it and get the points I described above, but how long he can hold yellow is another matter. Boonen and some of the other sprinters are good for a short ITT, so if they can stay within 30 seconds, someone might grab yellow off Cance's shoulders before too long. On the other hand, Cancellara is a proud man who loves splashy wins, so you can bet he's eyeing that stage to Arenberg. That would be just his kind of win. The final ITT is always a mystery with Cancellara; he leaves a lot of blood on the roads of the Tour in service of his team. Mark it maybe. A guess? Call it 250. The opening win is actually worth 110, counting yellow and green too.
- La Vuelta: possible big points haul. He tends to show up to perfect his worlds form, and this year should be no exception with a winnable worlds course. The opening ITT is 16km, so if he puts in a big ride, he could be in gold for several days. A guess? Another 250.
- The rest of Cancellara's summer should be quiet. A guess? Nada.
- World Championships: look for him to try for another double. The ITT should be his to lose; the road race not so much, more like his to steal. Either way, the huge number of available points means that two top placings will mean a flood of points. A guess? 350 FTW in the crono.
Boonen: 1065 now + 950 projected = 2015
Cancellara: 980 now + 1070 = 2050
Given the four-figure margin of error here, you can call that a dead heat. I would tend to favor Boonen slightly, though that just might be bias since I'm a big fan. Still, his sprinting gig does tend to nab some easy points, and his potential wins seem a bit more likely than Cancellara's, except for the worlds. In the bigger picture, however, Boonen is easily more valuable (assuming they both continue to do well), for one huge reason: Boonen owners could afford to buy Alberto Contador too; Cancellara owners were barred by the one-24+-guy rule. So take that Mr. Double-Monument winner.