It’s time to welcome home our winners of the 2016 FSA Directeur Sportif. Step on up to the podium!
Bronze Medal: Holmovka!
A well-known and long-time voice of the Cafe-sters, our friend Holms is much more than just Mark Cavendish’s greatest cheerleader. Nope, he’s got a keen eye for talent young and old, up and down the roster. Among the greatest hits on the roster for Stormbringers p/b variations of the f-word from their race radios were:
- Two pointers Enrico Gasparotto, Darwin Atapuma and Primoz Roglic, who hauled a full 2001 points on their own;
- Nice returns from single-pointers Jasper Stuyven (550, and remind me again why was he one point?), Ruben Fernandez (323) and even Phil Bauhaus (150); Holms even got 20 points back on his investment in Frank Schleck!
- But really, it was knowing how to invest the bigger chunks of his budget that elevated Holmovka, with his mere four >10 point investments paying off big time (Sagan, Cav, Dennis) or at least measuring up to the cost (Mollema).
Silver Medal: Mur de Huy
Mur wins the prize for most riders who are also on my team without it having destroyed all semblance of hope — a whopping six, but the key being that none of them were the kind, talented, gracious and generally awesome but FSA DS-killing Mikel Landa. No, instead s/he went with the following astute choices for Team Illes Balears-Bala:
- Peter Sagan. Moving on...
- Jens Keukeleire — very good non-obvious choice, given that the bloom was off that rose a couple seasons ago, but that shouldn’t be confused with a lack of ability, and clearly Orica is the right landing spot for the would-be Flandrian;
- Usual good picks like Stuyen, Ulissi, Vakoc; and
- Fabian Cancellara. Everyone has expensive guys -- those 150 points have to go somewhere. The key is to invest them in a pile of points. Cancellara was a risk at 18 (unlike, say, Ulissi at 8) but he went out in FSA DS-point-winning style.
Gold Medal: TH WHISTLER
After working his way up to 14th in 15, TH WHISTLER earned the right to use all caps this year with the latest in a series of narrow overall competition wins. Actually, his 180-point margin is right in there with the last few years (+57 for last year’s winner, +240 in 2014), and is made all the more significant by the fact that some 2800 points were awarded on the last day of the season (Holms snuck into third when Cav won the stage in Abu Dhabi that day). Anyway, the secrets to the success of Riding with Bigger Knobs, apart from an increase in knob size from 2015, were the deployment of an unbelievable list of guys from the 1-6 point range... almost too many to list here but some of the more inspired ones included:
- Gianni Moscon — a two pointer who donut’ed in 2015 but spiked to 730;
- Gianluca Brambilla — up threefold from the 2015 performance that made him a two-pointer;
- Overlooked scorers like Dmitri Claeys, Amaury Capiot, Nelson Oliveira;
- Hitting huge on Ulissi and Dylan Groenewegen;
- and overcoming the Kristoff point-torching with the more inspired Bardet and Cancellara picks.
This is a good blueprint for FSA DS success. In the end you need as many points as possible, and if a guy like Sagan comes along and laps the field, then he pays off at almost any cost. But swap Sagan and his 32-point cost (ugh) into this team for the pricier Norwegian and Bigger Knobs would have set a performance record for this competition. The foundation from the lower cost riders was just off the charts. Good on ya TH WHISTLER for doing your homework!
Bronze Medal: Wannabe Scattista
Team What the Hell, Why Not? breezed its way to an annoying third place... annoying because I tried this same approach and got nowhere. Also annoying to Kurt Stoebel, who landed in fourth place for the second consecutive season, a near impossibility statistically speaking, and if he’s fourth next year I will know that someone (coughUrsulacough) is messing with us. Anyway, cheers Kurt, I suspect we will see you on the leaderboard again soon.
But WTH,WN certainly pulled the right strings, in a steady if not really shocking way. Megan Guarnier was the Sagan of the Ladies Comp, and led the Hells to the podium, but other picks like 12-point bargain Chantal Blaak, Lotta Lepisto and Floortje McKay (another bargain at 8 points) all paid dividends.
Silver Medal: Quarantipuu
Ah, now things get a bit more intriguing. Team DRAGOODERZO RRACING TAYLOR p/b Geo-Plichta relied on a nice, if predictable, return on Kasia Niewiadoma, had to overcome blowing 50 points on Emma Johansson (who was still very solid, third overall), and then drew an inside straight on the single-digit point expenditures, particularly 8-point Leah Kirchman (2315 points), 6-point Jolanda Neff (905) and four-point Gracie Elvin (772). And Annemiek van Vleuten looked like possibly the score of the season before crashing out of Olympic gold, and still wound up on the heels of Marianne Vos at a third the price.
Gold Medal: misterbob568
While the concept of the “Ten Minute Team” might cost misterbob some popularoty if he talks about it too much, let’s leave open the possibility that maybe he wasn’t hinting at a totally haphazard process that worked all the way to the top. Maybe misterbob is one of those people who only needs ten minutes to sort out all the important information and nail each and every key decision. If so, Bob, meet me at the blackjack table at the Hard Rock Cafe in Vegas, any time you want, just give me 24 hours notice.
Whatever the process, it worked. MTMT nailed three of the top four producers overall — avoiding only EmmaJo at an inflated cost — and then ran off a string of amazing low-point selections, getting 2000-ish points from a quartet of two-pointers: Danielle King, Hannah Barnes, Doris Schweitzer and Katarzyna Pawlowska. Evie Stevens’ swan song didn’t hurt either.
So congratulations to our official winners! As always I invite them to send in their stories, and they should look for an email from me today connecting up for the delivery of prizes. And if you don’t get one, then hit up my gmail account (podcaf at the gee mail) with a note, because it almost certainly means I don’t have a working email contact for you.
There was a lot more to discuss in this year’s FSA DS though...
Clydesdale Crushes the Editors... and other Draft Leagues
Were you in a draft league this year? Did Peter Sagan destroy all semblance of competition by the end of April? If so, you’re in good company. Actually Clydesdale had a pretty respectable roster, other than whiffing early on Pozzerwagen and not scoring much after round 9 (of 12) but took Coquard, Oliveira and Meintjes as nice pickups with Sagan’s haul as well.
Conor was second with a solid performance, built around a more efficient Froome year, but I will give an extra nod to UMWolverine for best evidence of having done her homework. She scored 1600 points in rounds 10-12, almost impossible to do, and if not for Sagan being Sagan and a few errant picks in rounds 6-9, she could very well have taken home the title.
Combo Champ: Crooked Rain!
The best combined performances in both the Men’s and Women’s competition goes to the repeatedly excellent Crooked Rain, whose women’s team was eighth overall and men’s landed in 59th place. This was good enough for an adjusted 7th and 23rd -- among players with both a men’s and women’s team (in other words, his 59th in the men’s comp included 36 teams whose owner didn’t field a women’s team, so they are eliminated). That left Crooked Rain six standing spots above KentStu (adjusted 15th and 20th) and a bit further clear of Rob Nicolai (adjusted 6th and 43rd). I am happy to say that Crooked Rain also won the popular vote... I mean, the top ranking based on combined points, 30,829 to 30,221 and 29,790, respectively. I bet we can find something in the Shwag Box for Crooked Rain.
I’m not super up for a discussion of worst expenditures, so maybe you guys can carry that one in comments (and find a way to get around all the donuts who give an average value of zero), but I am happy to identify the riders who represented the best per-point expenditure this season.
Number one on the men’s side is Alberto Bettiol of Cannondale-Drapac, who was stuck on zero until the Tour de Pologne in July but got all the way to 770 by season’s end, which is a huge return on the one point seven different DSs invested in him. The next biggest number I can see is Petr Vakoc at 467 per point, something 138 different teams enjoyed. Here are a few notables among the bigs, and other top values I spotted from a quick look:
- Sagan 135/point
- Froome 106
- Ulissi 252
- Groenewegen 415
- Nizzolo 136
- Colbrelli 228
- Timothy Dupont 387
- Brambilla 227
- Roche 237
- Atapuma 377
- Moscon 365
- Pozzato 345!
- Naesen 355
Over on the women’s side, two-pointer Olga Zabelinskaya edged out one-pointer Emilia Fahlin, 613.5 per point to Fahlin’s 613. Nina Kessler’s 587 and Lotte Kopecky’s 555 were both in the ballpark. Other notables among the Bigs include
- Guarnier 108
- Niewiadoma 102
- Blaak 206
- Kirchman 289
OK, enough for now. Let’s close this out.
Thank you all for playing this year! It was our tenth consecutive season of running a year-long event, and fifth season with FSA as our awesome sponsor! I hope you keep them in mind as you hit the holiday shopping season. It’s not just an exciting partnership for us and our Directeur Sportif game, it’s also a VERY exciting time over at FSA, as they launched their first fully electronic groupset, the K-Force WE!
They continue to sponsor a lot of the people named in this article as well as their teams, like Vincenzo Nibali and the Astana folks, and if their wheels, cockpits, drive trains and other components are good enough for the Tour de France or Ronde van Vlaanderen, or the MTB Olympics, or the track, then they’re probably good enough for your riding.
Thanks also to Ursula, our mad scientist, and Jens, our steering committee voice of sanity and reason. And of course special thanks to SuperTed for inventing the .bot that makes our lives so much better each spring.
Thanks a lot to all of you as well, and we hope to see you next year. Oh, and if you have suggested changes for 2017, either in the rules structure or in the race calendar, now is a great time to bring them forth. Cheers!