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Welcome to the 2012 FSA Directeur Sportif!

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Welcome to the sixth season of the Podium Cafe's in-house, one-of-a-kind year-long pro cycling fantasy game! Formerly known as the Virtual Directeur Sportif, we are changing the name to welcome sponsor for the 2012 season, Full Speed Ahead!

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Better known as FSA, the company has been putting out great components and wheels for eons -- just ask the good folks at Liquigas. We've featured some of their products here before, so it is especially gratifying to have them come on as a partner for our year-long game. Here is a direct message from the FSA guys:

Let's Play! FSA is excited to sponsor the Virtual Director Sportif fantasy season on Podium Cafe. As makers of world class bicycle components for many Pro Tour teams, club riders and people who just like to ride their bikes, we are fans of the sport too. This season ought to be a lot of fun.

Best of luck!

FSA USA staff

Look for FSA USA staff to join the competition. Maybe they can goad their Italy office into taking part. They may know great components, but do they know which Katusha-Itera graduates from the one-pointer list are ready to break out? Possibly. I don't. Anyway, it'll add to the fun around here.

The other big, big BIG news is that the Official FSA Directeur Sportif Website is ready and waiting for you to play the Men's and the Women's games! Last year, you may recall, was the inaugural Women's competition, which was operated by sending a spreadsheet to Jens, who then copied it by hand into his master spreadsheet. Every two weeks Jens would mark the points next to each rider's name for each team in the master spreadsheet, hop a ferry to Copenhagen where he would have it scanned and emailed to me, which was then posted to the site for standings updates. However, Superted has come to the rescue, cut out the middleman (Jens), and automated the entire game -- team selection, submission, standings, etc. Just like the Men's game! At the official site, you can toggle back and forth between the M and W games by use of the selection tool at the top of the page.

OK, to get things started, let's run down the basics:

What Is It?

The FSA Directeur Sportif is our yearlong cycling game reminiscent of fantasy sports, without the creepy name. You assemble riders onto your team, then follow them throughout the season as they accumulate points for your team. If you're like majorly wicked lucky good at picking your team and you finish on the podium at season's end, you're in line for some awesome Podium Cafe swag. [Last year: Capo-produced Podium Cafe jerseys. This year... something else you can wear? And as always, the respect of your peers, or at least their bitter envy.] And if you don't technically win, you'll still have a great time and probably learn a lot about the riders you picked... or ditched at the last second, just before they embarked on their historic campaign.

How does the game work?

You have a budget of points to spend in assembling your roster. In doing so you don't have to spend all 150 points but you must fill the entire roster. Once you assemble your team, the work is over. There is no in-season swapping, no setting your lineup every day. Cycling isn't baseball. You can make a men's team, a women's team, or one of each. What you can't do is make more than one M or W team; one submission per person per competition!

Men's Game: You have 150 points to spend on a roster of 25 riders. You don't have to spend all 150 points but you must have exactly 25 riders. Riders cost anywhere from 1 to 36 points. You can't have more than one rider who costs 24 points or above. You are also limited to three riders TOTAL who cost 18 points or above. [The latter includes your one 24+ guy, if you have one.] Check the rider list here.

Women's Game: You have 150 points to spend on a roster of 15 riders. You don't have to spend all 150 points but you must have exactly 15 riders. Riders cost anywhere from 1 to 65 points (guess who?). To make things trickier you are not allowed to spend more than 100 points on riders that cost 20 points or more. Check the rider list here.

Please note that the website of the women's game is not yet fully operational. The rider and race lists are correct but the rules function isn't set correctly yet.

Points are scored in a list of races we have designated at the Podium Cafe Race Calendar [M and W]. How many points? Which riders can I hire? Any other wrinkles? Go read the rules [M and W]! There aren't very many, but if you don't follow them, the submission will be rejected. Nobody likes rejection. Also, we do rather strenuously enforce the one team per person rule. Please, keep it fair!

What does it cost?

No money. No portion of your soul. No strings attached. No, I'm not joking.

So I don't have to do anything before getting started?

Well, no, you do have to become a registered member of the Podium Cafe before you can start. If you're not one already, that is. Look in the upper right corner for signup info. It's free, simple, and requires very, very little information.

OK, I did that. What next?

Head on over to the FSA Directeur Sportif Website, login in the upper right corner using your exact same user ID from the Podium Cafe login, and get started! If you played in the past year or two, your existing login and password have been saved for you to use again this year. Just sign in and you're good to go. If you are new to the game, sing up first and a new password will be sent to you.

I'm Indecisive. Should I wait?

Nope. Get started picking your team now. As you are hiring riders your picks are automatically saved to your account, no further action needed. You can log in to the VDS site whenever you want to tinker with your team, hiring and firing riders endlessly, until deadline day... as long as you do not submit your team! Once you hit "SUBMIT", you can't make changes without groveling to an administrator first.

I'm a procrastinator. Is this a problem?

Not yet, but if your team isn't completely filled out, meeting all the requirements, and submitted by Deadline Day, February 24, 2012, then you're out of the competition until 2013.

Questions?

Use the comments below. Tell your friends! Taunt/sandbag them into your own mini-competitions! Stay tuned for in-season mini-comps, like the Classics or the Grand Tours! Ready... set... GO!