[N.b., the Women's competition is over, we have a winner, but I want to do my traditional wrap-up post next week. So set that aside for a moment.]
It's a busy final weekend of the cycling season, so much so that I can barely bring myself to watch. And good thing too, because now I know that Tom Boonen will be OK and I didn't spend the last six hours with my heart in my throat. He's got a 15cm fracture of his skull under his left ear, which if you're going for a skull fracture, apparently that's where you want to get one. But, cycling being a fundamentally cruel enterprise, the Abu Dhabi Tour moves on without him, as do several other races in France and Italy:
- Paris-Borges was yesterday, with Sam Bennett scoring a big win for Bora-Argon over such luminaries as Nacer Bouhanni, Giacomo Nizzolo and Arnaud Demare.
- The Abu Dhabi Tour runs on and on through Sunday.
- My formerly beloved Giro dell'Emilia is tomorrow, and the startlist is a total horror show, kicking off with Davide Rebellin.
- More or less the same field will show up a day later at the GP Beghelli.
- And finally, Paris-Tours will end our FSA DS season with a bit more dignity, though the absence of the World Champion for an oil-fueled vanity race is a bit of an insult to tradition, or what remains of it in October.
But if you're unimpressed or unmotivated by this, the Podium Cafe has got your back, because the last lap of the FSA DS is about as exciting as it gets. Let's take a look at the standings with three races (and change) remaining:
- Team Æbelskiver, 13,793 points
- Rider's Cramp, 13,675
- Still Got the Pacific Blues, 13,382
- Cesuras, 13,340
- fuzzy logic, 13,043
It drops off from there into, not mathematically eliminated territory per se, but close enough. You can't score 800 points while the people around you score zero. So really, even fuzzy logic is only in the running for a podium spot, not the win.
Anyway, let's peek into these rosters and see who has the best chance.
First of all, thank you for making me look up alt 0198 and expanding my computer literacy by one character. The Æbelskivers have a handful of points' lead and it seemingly all comes down to how Edward Theuns is feeling this weekend. He's there along with defending winner Jelle Wallays to give TSV its strongest squad since they dominated the big money teams in Dwars. And Theuns won a stage of the Eurometropole Tour just last week. But Paris-Tours is a bit bigger than Dwars (which is awesome but runs a bit close to MSR for some people's plans), and Æbelskiver has little in the way of fallback plans -- Daniel Oss in the desert and Oscar Gatto in Italy. Best hope seems to be for a lot of obscure riders to win this weekend.
Uh oh. Basically tied with the skivers, Rider's Cramp not only has Theuns as well (seemingly one of the keys to success this year) but Elia Viviani -- who won today's stage and could figure in the Abu Dhabi GC -- and a handful of other riders with some points potential... though the team also has Boonen and suffered a big blow today in that regard.
Still Got the Pacific Blues
Sitting further back is probably the most interesting team so far. If I had Sam Bennett, Giacomo Nizzolo, Tiesj Benoot, Dylan Teuns, and some credible riders for the Italian races (Fabio Duarte, Jan Polanc) I probably wouldn't have the blues. It will take multiple high finishes to make up more than 400 points on the weekend, but if nothing else the potential for the top two teams to stagnate while the Blues move up is a non-zero number.
My pick for best name in this group, coming as it does from a community in the drop-dead gorgeous region of Galicia, Spain, Cesuras also sports some attractive chances for a final weekend ambush. They too have Theuns, and obviously a win by him does Cesuras no good, but try Domenico Pozzovivo and Francesco Gavazzi in Italy and some longshots like Raymond Kreder, Jarlinson Pantano and Moreno Hofland in France and... OK, it's a longshot.
No real chance at winning, for the simple reason that their best hopes -- Theuns, Bennett, Eduardo Zardini -- also ride for higher placed teams. This is why I encourage draft leagues!
I'm going with Rider's Cramp for the win, with Viviani making the difference, but it's going to be very, very close.
By the way, the Jimbo Line is sitting at 8486 points. What's the Jimbo Line, you ask?
Approximately half of you are sorry you asked. Jimbo, with his Everyman sensibilities (when it comes to FSA DS team assembly), may be on to something here. A line set at 424th of 853 players is almost exactly at the halfway mark, a pretty good indication of whose teams do or do not suck. I have clinched a spot above the Jimbo Line for the season, with nearly 9200 points in hand. Jens, sadly, is almost sure to finish just below the line, unless he can scare up an extra 120 points.
Oh, and I'm set to finish third in my private group, despite adding Broerie and a resurgent Ant1. I need to hold off Drewd but neither one of us has much going on anywhere so I like my chances. My borther and RC Speed got held down by their team-building concepts, and others like Jimbo and Jens just... well, the Jimbo Line has spoken.
I've also locked up fourth place in the Editors' League, but the podium is entirely up for grabs, with Drewd leading Sui Juris by a mere 32 points and Ursula by 136. Oh, and Ursula is well into the top 100 on the big board, employing the same dark arts he uses to make up the price list for the assembly of his team. Jealous? Maybe, but on the flip side I'm pretty sure his soul is damned for all eternity. You people voted, and the Fantasy Cycling Gods have taken notice.
How was your private league? Care to divulge the contents?
Good luck all!