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Holy Crap! The FSA DS Comes Down to the Wire...

Nothing has been settled. Nothing!

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Fsa-ds_small_mediumChecked the standings lately? We've got a barn-burner on our hands...

Men's FSA Directeur Sportif Standings

1. lieutenantmudd Team Thunder Snow 12704
2. TomGard GiantDefy 12645
3. sebastiandeluded Connie's lost sons 12585
4. Basil II Sandy Chamois 12581
5. attackagain! You'll See Sagan Make a Slaughter 12321
6. mathieug While My DS Gently Weeps 12288
7. Oaktown Oaks El Diablo Rosa 12131
8. Jule Mamie Nova 12127
9. chrismara Operacion Ceebs 12046
10. gryf For a Horse with Wings 12037

I could go deeper, frankly. Teams 11-13 are only another 100 points back before you get any real separation (the 14th ranked team is a full 1000 points off the lead). See the full table here.

This is easily the closest competition we've had that I can remember. Last year at this time I was writing about the battle for second, as bvl's Wafelijzer squad was some 700 points up and in command. Anyway, before diving in, let's look at the women's standings:

Women's FSA Directeur Sportif Standings

1. Aait Verdan SlipStreamTeam 17734
2. straw dog I Love Lucy 17568
3. hiddenwheel Vos vs. Vos 17406
4. Davey H Burghardt's Glorious Girls 17327
5. roboturtle ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ 17294
6. seamu Oprah 16949
7. ccip9 lionnes 16889
8. FrankV Vlammende Vedettes 16846
9. Greg Butler Fat bottom girls you make the rockin world go round 16827
10. PvdV Pietje Pelle op zijn Gazelle 16513

Analysis -- Women's FSA DS

Defending champ Straw Dog is back, but no longer in command, and with only  tomorrow's road race left on the calendar. The World Championships scores on the scale of 350, 300, 275, 250, 225, 200, 175, 150, 125, 100.... SlipStreamTeam has 166 points in hand and a couple of the top non-Vos favorites in Emma Johanssen and Ellen van Dijk. [It should be noted that none of the top ten have Vos; she didn't score enough to make up for her 82-point price this year.] I Love Lucy's success has been predicated on phenomenal depth -- great drafting by Straw Dog this year. But for Lucy to win, the Dog needs to flood the top ten, and for EmmaJo not to salt it away for Aait Verdan. Smart money's on nope.

Beyond that, most of the closest teams have either EmmaJo or van Dijk, which means their obvious path to climbing the charts is blocked. A rash of upsets in the top ten could change things... but tomorrow's race isn't looking like a bunchy finish, not on this course.

Analysis -- Men's FSA DS

The battle for the Winner's FSA Kit (super slick clothing) couldn't be more intriguing. But let me start by saying there are 14 events left to go, all the way to October 20, and including two Cat-2 races (Worlds and Lombardia) plus two Cat-4s (Emilia and Paris-Tours). The running theme has something to do with climbing, except when it has to do with sprinting. Whoever wins might be a team that can do both, but with a clear emphasis on the former.

For starters... all top ten teams have Peter Sagan! Making the FSA DS the only competition in the world where he is currently functionally irrelevant. Oddly enough, the top ranked team without Sagan is Tale of Two Schleckies, ranked #11 at the moment. As good a reason as any to leave them out of the discussion? Eh, only if the President of Fastvakia scores high Sunday. If not, perhaps the Valverde-Quintana-Kittel show will become a topic of interest going forward. We'll see.

As to the top ten, here's a list of riders who could make a difference.

Bauke Mollema: On five of the top ten teams, but only one of the top five -- overall leader Team Thunder Show. That plus a stage win at the Vuelta suggests that Mollema's influence on the FSA DS is more than theoretical.

Sylvain Chavanel: The Fighting Frenchman rides for the #2 and #4 teams, alone among the top ten. That alone (plus his awesomeness) makes him a person of interest, but after Sunday he's not likely to do much. He was second at the Chrono des Nations last year, so some minor points could happen late. But that's a pittance compared to what the climbier guys will be scoring in Italy. And with his impending team switch, OPQS aren't going to be terribly interested in helping him.

Greg Van Avermaet: Always a major threat in the final month. And none of the top five have him, which makes teams #6 and 8, While My DS Gently Weeps and Mamie Nova, dark horse threats to upset the applecart.

Colombians: South American riders always seem to like Italian roads, and Colombians were especially prominent last Fall, leading to their amazing season throughout 2013, everywhere. The problem is, guys like Carlos Betancur (on three of the top ten) and Nairo Quintana (only on #3 Connie's Lost Sons) are coming to Italy after much longer, more exhausting seasons than they'd previously experienced. On form, they'll be difference-makers, and Quintana of the two seems like he's still going well. But they might end up being shiny objects in Lombardia.

Sprinters: Pick a German, any German. Greipel (5 teams), Ciolek (2 teams) and Kittel (3 teams) figure to keep scoring.

I see you there: Chris Horner (2 teams), Diego Ulissi (4 teams), Michele Scarponi (2 teams), Robert Gesink (4 teams), Jan Bakelants (1 team), Rui Costa (1 team).