I know I've been a little light on FSA DS analysis this year, but it's not you, it's me. Anyhow, we have undoubtedly the most exciting race we've ever had for the Men's title brewing, and it took a dramatic turn today. Sonny Colbrelli defied the usually devastating effects of my picking him to win and actually won the Coppa Sabatini, racking up 150 points in the process for his FSA DS owners.
One of those owners was OPQ, previously in second place behind overall leader Tenbosse by a mere 45 points. So by the time I finished breakfast, this --
... became this--
Note, Tenbosse did recoup 15 points at Binche-Tournai-Binche, via Sep Vanmarcke's fifth place, so Colbrelli's 150-pointgasm isn't the entirety of this update, but it is pretty much the difference-maker right now. Mind you, that's sort of like saying the butterfly ballot was the difference in the 2000 election, when things were so close that you could point to a thousand different circumstances, change one, and flip the outcome. For now, though, that's a convenient way to analyze the race.
As previously mentioned, there are five other events left to score after today (which by the way included Paris-Bourges, won by John Degenkolb but not including any racers among OPQ and Tenbosse). Over the past four days, the gap from #3 to #1 went from 398 points on Monday to 428 today. On that basis, let's assume that the top two teams are the only ones likely to challenge for the title, and #s 3-6 or so are battling for the bottom step. If that's the case, here are the riders you need to know in assessing the upcoming battle.
All of this is courtesy of the tremendously inspired Whereismyvdsteam.com:
Tour of Beijing
OPQ 8 riders: Alexandre Geniez, Ben Swift, Julian Arredondo, Moreno Hofland, Phillip Gaimon, Rigoberto Uran, Sacha Modolo, Tobias Ludvigsson
Tenbosse 6 riders: Ben Swift, Dayer Quintana, Filippo Pozzato, Rick Zabel, Rigoberto Uran, Sacha Modolo
Advantage: Tenbosse. Swift's form is a bit more impressive than Hofland's. Modolo and Uran are on both teams, and I just don't see anyone besides Hofland making an impact for OPQ. But stay tuned.
OPQ 1 rider: Ivan Basso
Tenbosse 1 rider: Damiano Cunego
Advantage: Tenbosse. Actually can I pick neither?
Paris - Tours
OPQ 3 riders: Kenneth Vanbilsen, Nikias Arndt, Tom Van Asbroeck
Tenbosse 7 riders: Arnaud Demare, Bjorn Leukemans, Gregory Rast, Jurgen Roelandts, Niki Terpstra, Nikias Arndt, Sep Vanmarcke
Advantage: Tenbosse. Ah, now it gets truly interesting. Van Asbroeck is a decent bet for some secondary points, of which there are plenty in this race. However, Demare was third last year and Terpstra 10th. Leukemans, Roelandts and Vanmarcke are all guys you can look for at the end of a hard day. Will we be talking Monday about how Classics riders are the key to overall FSA DS triumph? We might.
OPQ 1 rider: Ivan Basso
Tenbosse: 0 riders
Advantage: Kind of a tossup here.
Nationale Sluitingprijs - Putte-Kapellen
OPQ 2 riders: Kenneth Vanbilsen, Tom Van Asbroeck
Tenbosse 2 riders: Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Jurgen Roelandts
Advantage: OPQ. Vanbilsen was tenth here two years ago, and does this race every year. Van Asbroeck will be motivated. Roelandts can't be counted on to take this race seriously.
Taken together, I would not bet against Tenbosse pulling off the reverse-reversal. But it's gonna be close.