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VDS 2011: Meet the Men's Winners!

Virtual-ds-2_mediumYou've seen the standings by now, so this isn't exactly news, but it's time to officially congratulate our winners of the Podium Cafe Virtual Directeur Sportif Men's Competition! And we're not just gonna congratulate them, we're going to meet them too...

In third place, say hey to Komanda Dobrodetel, kommanded by a longtime Cafe occupant swells, a/k/a Scott. The K-Ds ranked #1 in teams employing a Gilbert Strategy, and sure enough it was Scott's big ticket items that drove home his podium place: Gilbert, J-Rod and Tony Martin gave him a 6600-point base to pad with his small-dollar pickups. But you don't get on the podium without a lot of those paying off, and sure enough, although Scott's 1-point pickups amounted to nothing, he got one solid contribution after another from the 2-8 pointers. Pretty much everyone save Ryder Hesjedal, and Koldo Fernandez exceeded his 2010 output. So, Gilbert plus an avalanche of guys coming up bigger than planned. Not too shabby.

On the flip... Scott reveals his near-winning strategy, as do the other podium guys!

Here's Scott's 6-Point-Plan for success. Remember, he finished higher than you did.

1) I took notes during the 2010 VDS season. If I read an interview with a rider that impressed me that I previously didn’t know much about, or see a particular rider’s results on a particular course, I would jot it down. (Denis Galimzyanov, Rigoberto Uran, Christophe LeMevel, Alexander Kristoff)

2) I really tried to maximize my guestimations with middle-tier VDS cost riders. I didn’t want to go all top-heavy and then a bunch of 1 point fillers. This was a main goal of mine…which, really, is just me swagging who I think is going to return decent value. (Tony Martin, Sebastian Langeveld, Domenico Pozzovivo, Pierrick Fedrigo)

3) There are those guys that you always see "really close". I mean they don’t always win, but they’re right there. I tried to pick up a few those. (Yauheni Hutarovich, Koldo Fernandez, Daniele Bennati)

4) Close to guys that are "really close" are the guys I thought might be due for a breakout year (based on 2010 results). (Philippe Gilbert, Ryder Hesjedal, Alessandro Ballan)

5) A few guys struck me as those ready to be players in the shorter stage races & 2nd/3rd tier GT racers, so I picked them. (SamSan, Uran, LeMevel, T. Martin, J.C. Peraud)

6) LUCK:

Obviously those six points are in reverse order of importance.

Second place went to Burgi's Glorious Bastards, directed by Davey H of the Netherlands. Davey is 23, and has been playing fantasy cycling at, which runs probably the world's biggest game and plenty of in-season short competitions as well. If you want more, that's your source. Cyclingfever's calling card is Dutch fantasy game ringers, though, and Davey is the latest example. In his first year of VDS (which he discovered via twitter and thanks to Pigeons!), he came in 23rd. Second year, up to second.

Davey's strategy is to eschew the mid-level guys. As he put it, "I chose 5x 10+ and 2x 20+, mostly GC riders to take a lot of GC points (J. Rodriguez, C. Evans, M. Scarponi, R. Gesink, I. Anton). With Boasson Hagen and Haussler I hoped to score in classics and sprints. With the points/budget I had left, I wanted to score with cheap riders. I chose 1 mid-cost rider (R. Uran) who was only 6 points. For the other 17 spots, I chose all 1-2 priced riders."

Sounds simple enough, and it is -- if you hit one home run after another with your cheap pickups: Kittel, Degenkolb, Cobo, Galimzyanov, Poels, Sutton... the list goes on. BGBs did so well with these guys, and their veteran core of Cadel Evans, J-Rod, Scarponi and Boasson Hagen that they could absorb three donuts and Heinrich Haussler.

And now our winner...

Cyclemania JH put on an impressive performance, rarely letting up in its pursuit of the top spot. Or at least, they seemed to be there whenever I looked. Cyclemania's DS is Johan, another recruit from Cyclingfever, another Dutch cycling fantasy game ringer. Johan beat out Davey with one thing we older guys all prize: experience. Johan has put in "many years" at the helm of his fantasy teams, and attributed his win this year to "programs of different riders, historical results and my idea of which promising young riders could have a succesful breakthrough this year. So you get a fine mix of riders, (plus) a little wisdom and luck."

Looking at his squad, it's clear that he owes his victory to one rider: Peter Sagan. No less than 14 riders appear on both teams: guys like Evans, Kittel, Scarponi, Gesink, JRod, Galimzyanov, Degenkolb, etc. [For reference, the team most similar to mine had 10 of the same guys; not that anyone should emulate me.] So the difference comes in those other 11 guys, and at the top of the list, scoring 240 more points than his counterpart (? Cobo) at BGB, is Sagan. Sagan opened up the gap, and a handful of guys like Bennati, Rujano and Simone Ponzi padded it.

So there you have it. To recap, the secrets to VDS success are: 1) luck; 2) being Dutch; and 3) Marcel Kittel. Got it?