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The FSA VDS race is on

THE GAME IS OPEN! go here.

FSA DS small
We're now a week into the selection process of the Podiumcafe's yearlong FSA Virtual Director Sportif competition and as I'm writing this 132 brave souls have already submitted their teams. This is the group of people now suffering severe cases of what is known formally in the medical profession as CSA: Collarbone Separation Anxiety. Submit early and you are vulnerable to injury and whatever else misfortune that can befall your rider before the submission deadline on February 28. But remember to actually hit  "Submit my Team now!" on time as teams not finally submitted before the deadline will not be accepted.

For those of you who haven't entered a team of women riders before I highly recommend doing so this year as it will give you extra reason to follow what promises to be the most exciting women's season in many years, probably with more media and live-coverage than ever before too. To make things more interesting we will also be handing out a prize this season to the player with the Best Combined Team, meaning the player with the lowest combined ranking-number among those playing both in the men's/women's VDS. The ideal score there is of course 2 if you managed to be ranked 1st in both but in reality you're probably aiming for 4 (2nd + 2nd) as I'm pretty sure I have a lock on the wins in both sub-competitions. How hard can it be?
Picking a women's team is slightly easier, there are fewer riders to consider and if you manage to get 4-5 of the bigger names of the year right you should be in the top end of the rankings. Don't be daunted by picking those last 1-2 pointers, chances are they won't make or break you anyway. And it's all in good fun anyway.

About Our Sponsor

This marks our fourth season where I am proud to open this competition in conjunction with our most excellent sponsor, FSA. Known formally as Full Speed Ahead and making a very wide variety of components for all cycling disciplines under several brands, FSA is one of the real leaders in cycling componentry. To wit:

  • The FSA line is the original line of world class components.
  • VisionTech USA, focusing on road, triathlons and now Cyclocross with lightweight carbon parts engineered for speed.
  • Gravity Components, hardcore dirt riders' gear.

These guys know cycling from all angles. Based in Italy, Taiwan and Mukilteo, Washington, they've got the universe of wheels and parts covered. How well? Eight World Tour or Pro Conti teams are on FSA or Vision cockpits: Namely: Astana, Etixx-QuickStep, Lampre-Merida, Cannondale-Garmin, Team LottoNL-Jumbo, Tinkoff-Saxo, Bora-Argon 18 and Cofidis. Bora Argon 18 and Cofidis will use Vision wheels in addition to cranks, brakes and chains. Etixx-QuickStep and Tinkoff-Saxo will ride FSA cranks, brakes, and chains as well as Vision wheels in the TTs. Here in the US, Jelly Belly, Raleigh Clement and the FCS Zyngine women's team will be fully decked out in FSA and Vision: cranks, wheels, cockpit, etc.

In other words, FSA and Vision will be all over the Tour de France this year, as well as the roads of our fine country. So yeah, quality, and performance. Check em out.

About the Game

The full set of rules are here, but I'll highlight the biggies.

  • You cannot play without first registering at the Podium Cafe! That's our one requirement. This helps assure that there is one team per person (nobody can have multiple teams), and to assure that you're part of the community for whom we do all this stuff, free of charge. Once you have set up your login, which is very fast and also completely free, you can then start at the Game Site.
  • As you can see, the game site is a separate entity. Go there to make your team, come back here to chat about it.
  • Basic structure for the Men's game: you have up to 150 points to spend and you must compile a roster of 25 riders. You can only have one rider who costs 26 points or more, and only a total of three at or over 20 points (including the guy who costs 26+). Until your team meets all of these requirements, any attempt to submit it will be rejected.
  • Basic structure for the Women's game, which is quite different than the men's game: 150 point budget to spend on 15 riders, and you can spend up to 100 points on riders valued at 20 points or higher. And yes, these are known as the Vos Rules.
  • Team-building: you have nearly four weeks to mess around, swap riders in and out of your lineup, and so forth. Until you hit "submit" -- and you will know when you have done so because a prompt will ask you if you're sure -- then your team is still open to changing. Some people go with their gut and submit today. Others tinker right up to the deadline. Both are valid ways to make a team that loses to mine. But at some point you have to hit submit. Remember... if the team fits, you must submit.
  • There are no in-season adjustments, no game-day decisions. Just submit your roster and follow them. This is pretty much how cycling works: everyone is riding a race somewhere for most of the season. There are no injury lists and no trades; you just ask the fittest person on your roster to try and win.
  • The DEADLINE is February 28 at Midnight, Pacific Time. Teams submitted after that point will not be accepted.

If you have some sort of problem, please try the comments for a quick response or email me (chris[at]podiumcafe[dawt]com)and I'll help you out as soon as I can. We have the capability to "unsubmit" teams but consider that a late, if not last, resort. This is a very busy time of year, including my desire to cover races. But rest assured, we want to help everyone play if possible.

And by everyone, I mean once. The one-per-customer is the key to the game's integrity. We ask that you all respect the letter and the spirit of this rule. We have some policing capability, and may be emailing you if there's a possible issue, but that's pretty rare. On the spirit side, I get that families play -- my kids have had teams of their own. Just as I don't do their homework, I don't fill out their rosters. In that spirit, we are happy to have your whole family play!

And most of all, take advantage of the features that make it extra fun! Once you have submitted, you can create your own small group where your team page will track a list of other submitted teams you want to pit yourself again. I know at FSA they use this feature to track how all the people in the company playing the game are doing. As you can imagine, that makes for some very fun chatter. Be it family, company, friends or whatever, make your group! It can even be people who don't know you or agree to it -- only you can see your group. But ideally it's something where you and others are all grouping together and each making that group.

Also, there are Draft Teams. The Editors have been running an Editors' League (last won by Susie Hartigan, our annual on-scene Giro d'Italia reporter) for several years. Last year I know a few others got together and made a draft league. Basically, a draft league tosses out the points and budgets, and lets you select riders for your team, like various sports drafts, whereby that rider is only on your team and unavailable to your competition. The Game Site does NOT have this capability per se. You can use our rider list and our points scoring system in your game, but you have to figure out a way to actually set up the teams -- Google Spreadsheets has some functionality there. Others of you may have ideas. And if you are anxious to do this but are stuck on how, contact us and we can help.

Ready? Set?