If you’ve had even a quick look at the way we priced riders, you will have seen that the cost between the top and the bottom is an awful lot bigger than in the men’s game. There’s a simple enough reason for that: the season is a lot smaller, there are far fewer race clashes, and there’s not much chance to "do a Greipel" while the boss is off at the big, quality races. So if there’s a likely sprint finish then Teutenberg and Wild will be there, steep climbs and out come Pooley and Abbott, classic sort of climbyness, Vos, Johansson and Arndt.
So assuming you worked out our little restrictions on picking those names that you might recognise, and have had a little browse through Pigeons’ Top Trumps to add a few more women who you hope might score a few points, or at least whose names you sort of remember from somewhere, maybe, then this is my attmept to give you something a little more scientific than a dartboard to fill those final spaces. Read on for a whole teams-worth of one-pointers that includes a lot more quality (and more than one set of rainbow stripes) than you might expect.
I’ll start straight away by getting the overlap with Pigeons collector cards out of the way. If keeping track of your riders matters to you, then both the top two bloggers, Marijn de Vries and Bridie O’Donnell are one-point bargains. By all rights, Dutch translated by machine is funny as a concept, but you wouldn’t think any actual jokes would make it through the Google maze. Try the latest episodes of adventures from the AA Drink training camp in Spain for a start. But not with a full mouth. And have you ever woken up in the morning feeling not just old, cynical and twisted, but that you are the oldest, most cynical and twisted person in the world? Well sign up to Bridie’s twitter for reassurance that someone has an even more warped view of the world than even you thought possible. So what are they like on the road, you ask? Well last year was the first full european season they both rode, and they spent much of the time on domestique duties, hence the lack of personal results and the low price. Marijn showed some climbing ability, but fell in that gap between the point-scoring places and the gruppetto, while Bridie is a strong TTer. Will they score for you? No guarantee, but you’ll have lots of fun with them on your team. And if you’re going with the riders-who-keep-you-informed theme, then you might also want to consider young PB & Co rider Tayler Wiles who doesn’t write as often, but makes up for that by coming up with very long, very well observed pieces when she does.
Or you put pedigree first. Well there are quite a few champions in the bargain bin, and lets start at the top level, the rainbow jersey holders. We’re talking holders here too, not just the I-used-to-be-a-contender sort of riders. OK, you don’t get Bronzini or Pooley for a point, but how about Sarah Storey, World Paracycling champion, currently on the books of Horizon Fitness. Or Pauline Ferrand Prevot, World Junior champion, apparently intent on concentrating on mountain-biking in the run-up to 2012, but just might be persuaded to ride with the French National team from time to time.
Then there are quite a few national champions there too. Staying with the French, when the ESGL-GSD schism took place, current champion Melodie Lesueur chose to stick with the ESGL, non-UCI for 2011, faction. That means that she should be at the French races (sadly diminishing by the week) with her regular teammates, but will ride for the National team elsewhere.
Last autumn apparently Alexis Rhodes asked her friend Carla Ryan if there were any openings at Garmin-Cervelo. Surprisingly there was one, she got the job, and a couple of weeks later won the National road race. And as the team has been shrunk a bit to give them all a chance of a decent racing programme, she could be a great buy.
The South African champs also took place a couple of weeks ago, and the TT and RR were won by Cherise Taylor and Merissa ven der Merwe respectively. Cherise will be riding for Lotto-Honda this year, and we may see Merissa in the SA National team. I reckon that the performances they gave last season should get them a few invitations. Or if you prefer Swiss, then Pascale Schnider of Bike-import.ch won the TT and Emilie Aubry of Nederland Bloeit the RR.
Or perhaps you prefer the Baldrick style cunning plan when you pick your team? One of the stars of last summer was Greta Treier who put down her success in part to coming back to competitive racing just six months after giving birth. Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel stepped back from competition last year when she became pregnant, I’d guess that the baby’s due about now, she was a pretty good rider anyway, so she’s got the pedigree. How lucky do you feel?
Elsewhere there are quite a few promising youngsters who might come good (although the risk in VDS is always that they will come good next season, or the season after next). Coryn Rivera, Hanna Solovey, Susanna Zorzi all featured prominently in last year’s Junior World RR and might be worth a gamble. Or maybe you’d prefer to think of it as a long-term investment.
There you are, fifteen riders, fifteen points spent, and quite a respectable looking team. Do I expect them to collectively outscore Marianne Vos. Well, erm, no, but what’s wrong with a little bit of hope.Marijn de Vries
Marissa ven der Merwe
Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel