Checked the standings lately?
|3.||johnnysteeler||My name is Inigo Montoya!||16555|
|7.||rattmuff||It's not about the bike||16319|
|8.||Seabasstien Turbot||The Mighty Jungels||16063|
Are you kidding me? 45 points separate the top two teams as we head down the home stretch, and a mere 890 separate the top eight. And even that is an arbitrary cutoff point, based on the convenience of round numbers (16000), with three more teams just behind. This is, without doubt, the best competition we've ever had, even before taking into account the possibility that a team with 三 in its name winning.
Can we talk for a second... what is 三? I think it might be a Kanji/Chinese character "mi" or "mitsu" or "san," meaning three. But ther00kie16 uses it cleverly to show motion, which leads to the question, are we headed into a new era where people's names include characters for visual effect? We are blowing straight past emoticons here. Big stuff.
Back to present times, let's start breaking this down. Here are the remaining events before the end of the FSA DS season, which of course marks the closing of the road season as a whole. Because once fantasy cycling is over, why bother?
- Tuesday: Binche-Tournai-Binche has never had such significance before. It's probably happening as you read this, and should feature the sprinters and cobbles guys (some stones on the finishing circuit). Website is here. It's also called Binche-Chimay-Binche, and the Memorial Franck Vandenbroucke, because every race needs three official names. John Degenkolb and Greg Van Avermaet are among the big names in attendance.
- Thursday: A doubleheader, as both the French and Italian fall classics calendar toss in a warmup for the big weekend. In France, it's Paris-Bourges, a fairly tame 190km ride south to the city which was not the inspiration for the term "bourgeoisie," or at least not the sole inspiration. Degs will be there too, but should draw some challengers for a sprint, and it isn't guaranteed to end in one anyway. In Italy it's the Coppa Sabatini, a/k/a Gran Premio Citta di Peccioli, a race ending in an uphill fight and thus drawing the short-range climbers. Startlist is pretty shoddy but don't overlook Sonny Colbrelli, at least among the known starters.
- Friday: The Tour of Beijing begins its death rattle, a mondialisation experiment that didn't work out. Because races in October that happen while all of Europe is asleep don't get big audiences I guess. Anyway, it's still World Tour, though that only gets it to Cat-5 for our purposes. Anyway, the penultimate Mentougou Miaofeng Mountain stage will almost certainly decide the overall (and traverse the Great Wall and look really cool). Dan Martin, Tejay van Garderen, and numerous other stars will be there, but I'm going to just chalk this one up for Carlos Betancur. He's due.
- Saturday: The most beautiful and endangered race on Earth, the Giro dell'Emilia, closes out the Italian season in style. Very little info on who's there at the moment. Climbers. Oh, and there's a women's edition happening, something to note for FSA DS '15.
- Sunday: Paris-Tours. I guess most people would consider this the biggest prize remaining, since it's a cat-4, the highest rating of anything left. It's also a fantastic, historic event that favors strong men who can sprint. Updates as the startlist grows. The GP Beghelli is the official end of the Italian season, and though it's inferior to Emilia -- it actually rewards sprinters who can't climb -- it's worth a few ducats regardless.
- Next Tuesday: What? We're not done? Ah, no, it's the Nationale Sluitingprijs, a Dutch classic with a lot of young talent in attendance. Not likely to change the standings much, but if it comes down to one of your kids picking up a small parcel of points, well... points are points.
- Theoretically there's an hour record attempt on the calendar but it's not happening this month so you can skip that. Way to make sure the year goes out with a bang, calendar designers!