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FSA DS MVP Watch: Degs or Kristoff? Stybar or Van Avermaet?

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Two riders just dominated the Spring Classics. Who's more valuable to your team?

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Katusha's Alexander Kristoff was the story of the Cobbled Classics, a revelation several years in the making... and sandwiched between Monumental victories by Giant-Alpecin star Jon Degenkolb. One of these guys is the biggest story of the young FSA DS season. But which one?

First, some current standings:

1. NOR KAT PRT Alexander Kristoff 1987 30 2305 1685
2. CZE EQS PRT Zdenek Stybar 1985 18 756 985
3. BEL BMC PRT Greg Van Avermaet 1985 26 1700 936
4. GER TGA PRT John Degenkolb 1989 26 2131 885
5. NED EQS PRT Niki Terpstra 1984 22 1285 850
6. SVK TCS PRT Peter Sagan 1990 36 2200 720
7. AUS SKY PRT Richie Porte 1985 18 20 697
8. POL EQS PRT Michal Kwiatkowski 1990 30 2017 655
9. GBR SKY PRT Geraint Thomas 1986 16 822 655
10. BEL TLJ PRT Sep Vanmarcke 1988 26 1405 650

Kristoff is in a class by himself at the moment. Degenkolb is fourth, behind a couple guys who haven't quite gotten the headlines (unless you go back before Sanremo) but on the face of things have been as good or better. Let's take a look at this from a few angles and see if Kristoff is indeed the MVP so far.

It's About Return On Investment

That is how you win, right? We all spent 150 points, so the name of the game is getting back as much per point spent as possible. Rounding to whole numbers, here's the ROI

  • Kristoff: 56 points/pt spent
  • Stybar: 55
  • Van Avermaet: 36
  • Degenkolb: 34
  • Terpstra: 39

Obviously a two-man race here. Kristoff, having cost 66 percent more than Stybar, will need to continue scoring at a rate of 1.67 times Stybar's. The others have some ground to make up. Speaking of which...

It's About What Comes Next

The Classics are awesome, but no season-long awards are given out after Brabantse Pijl. Ask my brother. Who profiles to keep their good fortune going? Let's break down where each of the top five riders' points came from last year.

  • Kristoff: By mid-April the Norwegian had 790 points, 35% of his eventual haul
  • Stybar: His spring tally represented 64% of his season's points.
  • Van Avermaet: Also 35% of his points were in spring.
  • Degenkolb: 36% of points scored by Paris-Roubaix.
  • Terpstra: After Paris-Roubaix he went on to score another 65 points.

Bottom line, only the Quick Steppers are (predictably enough) tying their seasons to the spring. Stybar, however, had a late-season bonanza in 2013, winning ENECO and a stage of the Vuelta. You can't be sure he won't have something up his sleeve. Terpstra really is the only rider on this list we can dismiss going forward. Degenkolb hauled in a HUGE amount of points at the Vuelta last year, which is cool but maybe not repeatable. Kristoff, meanwhile, started asserting himself at the Tour, and could be in line to inherit Peter Sagan's green jersey (as well as score some more stages) at the current pace of things. Van Avermaet... well, his case has been under scrutiny lately so we can't be sure he even has a summer and fall to look forward to. But if he does, he's certainly capable of padding his numbers, almost anywhere.

It's a bit remarkable that three of the top five riders on this list relied last year to the exact same extent on points in the classics... and that all three had a lot more good days to look forward to at this point in 2014.

It's Just About Points

Whether they come from your expensive guy or the one-pointer, you need points because the team with the most of em wins. I don't have a lot of helpful analysis except to say that Kristoff's total is almost double Terpstra's.

Across the board the signs are most promising for Alexander Kristoff. Of the big names, he's your MVP of the winter/spring. But will he be MVP in the end? What say ye?