The 2016 cycling season is about one third done already! Actually if you look at the FSA Directeur Sportif calendar and its 118 races, the one-third pole landed I think on Amstel but who's counting? (I pause a minute while several of you check to see if I am right or not. I'll wait....you can put your corrections in the comments.) At any rate let's take a gander at which riders have done well, which have done better than expected, which have fallen off a cliff and all that mess. As a measuring stuck we'll use the VDS results and no doubt besides what I write you can mine the data for other interesting tidbits that you can share int he comments section. Cause we're a community and we do things like that.
Before we get to the riders and teams let's look at the calendar from a distance. The year divides rather neatly into thirds:
- First third is the spring season dominated by the Classics and four of the five Monuments. Some stage racing too but not that much. And of the 34 single day races, only 14 of them are cat 6ers while we got 4 cat 2s and 9 cat 4s. This is the big difference between the first third of the season and the last third: big one day races. 15 stage races but only three are cat 3. This is Cuddles' time of the year.
- Second third is all about stage racing. Just 14 one day races, and no Monuments-except this year the two Olympic cat 6 races are during this middle period. 24 stage races though and two of the three Grand Tours (and really the Vuelta sort of straddles the line between the middle and last third.) Just 98 days until San Seb! This post would not be complete without a little Savant.
- Last third contains the Vuelta and just six other stage races-boosted by Eneco moving down in the calendar till after the Vuelta this year. Why the change? Because of World Championship races being at a different time-the end of the year in October, because of it being in hot hot hot Qatar. That change has messed with the order of several other races besides Eneco. Lombardy is back to being the last Italian one day race, though there are several other French and Belgian races afterwards, including Paris-Tours being on the same day as the Worlds TTT. Not sure how that's gonna work. Only the Tour of Abu Dubai is after Worlds and it has become a .HC race in its started desire to become a World Tour race. With the Worlds being the week before I expect A D to have a pretty good field to close out the year. And with the combo of Worlds, Paris-Tours, and Abu Dubai all at the end of the season, the VDS competition will be very much up for grabs until the very end. ANYWAYS the final third of the year is back to one day racing, but unlike the first third most of the races are little cat 5 and cat 6ers. How long before the pro tour goes year round like tennis?
- Peter Sagan. Last year at this point in the season, he had 720 VDS points. This year? A cool 1740. In his great 2013 season when he scored 3580, he had 1810 by this point so if you own him, you are happy happy happy. He's got the Tours of California, Switzerland, and France coming up so he should keep up with his points haul.
- Nairo Quintana. With his Romandie win he's ahead of last year's pace 856 this year to 702 last year. That's nice. This year though could be the year that he fully steps into being The Stage Racing Man. He can do that by winning either the Tour or the Vuelta. He does either of those and he joins this small group of stage racers since 2000 who have scored at least 1000 points in a season just from winning stage races. Here's the complete post-2000 list of such seasons:
1. Contador 2008 (age 25): 1600 points. Wins- Giro, Vuelta, Pais Vasco, Castile & Leon
2. Wiggins 2012 (age 32): 1350 points. Wins- Tour, Dauphine, Romandie, Paris-Nice
3. Froome 2013 (age 28):1325 points. Wins- Tour, Dauphine, Romandie, Criterium International, Oman
4. Valverde 2009 (age 29) 1250 points. Wins- Vuelta, Dauphine, Catalunya, Burgos
5. (tie) Contador 2014 (age 31): 1100 points. Wins- Vuelta, Pais Vasco, Tirreno-Adriatico
5. (tie) Evans 2011 (age 34) 1100 points. Wins- Tour, Romandie, Tirreno-Adriatico
7. Nibali 2013 (age 28) 1000 points. Wins- Giro, Tirreno-Adriatico, Trentino
To add weight to this list, only 23 riders since 2000 have for their careers scored 1000 points by winning stage races. If he wins a Grand Tour race this year to go with his Catalunya and Romandie wins, he'll join this list and probably not for the only time. (Contador is on track to achieve this feat for a third time if he wins the Tour or Vuelta and the Dauphine-a race which weirdly he's never won.)
The above list in interesting in so many ways and I plan on writing a post about it (and stage racing in general) after the season. Notice that before Bert in 2008 no rider had accomplished this feat? And, no that's not because of Lance. In fact Lance, even if you count his Tour wins, doesn't make this list. (And if you look at their whole careers, even with Lance's wins given back to him, he falls behind Bert by a fair amount.) As I say a bit more below, Don Nairo is 26 this year so he's just hitting the time when he could be appearing on the list.
- Thibaut Pinot and Ilnur Zakarin. Did we just see at Romandie the future main contestants in stage racing once the Contadors and Valverdes and Froomes and Nibalis exit the stage? Quintana is 26. Pinot is hey! 26! Zakarin is 27. Ion Izzy is 27. Bardet is 26. Landa is 27. Doom is 26. Very cool. Of these besides Quintana, Pin and Zak are each ahead of last year's pace, Pinot to 812 to 565 with his second stage race win under his belt (Criterium International). Zakarin is ahead 720 to 383.
- Did I say Ion Izzy? he's the stealth stage racer. He's ahead of last year's career best by 597 to 315-and that was with missing Pais Vasco where he would have scored a couple hundred more.
- Dylan Groenewegen. Kid scored 265 last year in a year full of promise. This year he's keeping his promises and looks to be this year's Ed Theuns in VDS scoring. Coming attraction: California where the Groaner meets Sagan, Kristoff, Swift, Wippert, Farrar and perhaps Cav? (Cav was scheduled for this race but I no longer see him on the preliminary startlist.)
- Gaspa and Samu. Old guys scoring points.
- Bouhanni and Demare. Erstwhile teammates; both ahead of last year's pace, Bou Bou 612-405 and Demare the MSR winner, 600-110. Demare is also ahead of his career best 2014 pace where he had scored 395 points by now.
- Others just listed to keep this post from getting too long: Vakoc and Stuyven, Poels and Colbrelli, Albasini and Cancellara and Boonen, Coquard and Rowe and Swift and Stannard, Firsanov and Ulissi and Not Bad At All Haussler. Take a bow gentlemen. And if you own multiple riders here, you are happy.
- Just a quick list of those riders who are scoring at roughly the same pace as last year. Hey! Not all of your riders can make career bests. You need these guys listed here to do what they promised: Van Avermaet, Contador, Vanmarcke, Costa, Theuns, Matthews, Bardet etc.
- It was a very um democratic year on the cobbles, wasn't it? Lots of love to spread around after you get past Peter Sagan. What I'm trying to say is that while a bunch of riders had their moments, including several riders I'm about to mention, a bunch of them are off of last year's pace: KRISTOFF, Gilbert, Terpstra, Stybar, Vandenbergh, Lampaert, Alaphilippe, Viviani, Bonifazio, Thomas, and yes Degenkolb. Also Gallopin, Froome, J-Rod and VALVERDE.
- Etixx 4764
- Sky 4476
- Tinkoff 3666
- BMC 3187
- Katusha 3115
- Trek 2960
- Movistar 2863
- Lotto Soudal 2675
- FDJ 2286
- Orica 2145
- And bringing up the rear for World Tour teams is Dimension Data with 745 points. Nine scoring riders, three with over 100 points, 19 doughnuts. Pro Conty teams Cofidis, Wanty, Direct Energie, Caja Rural, Bora and Bardiani all have higher point totals.
- Now that we are in stage racing season, his main riders are...oh dear: Nordhaug and Kudus. I;d add Simon Yates but, you know. If he wasn't on Sky you could add Wout Poels but he is and you can't. Sheesh, Peter Sagan is his best GC bet. Oh he has M A Lopez and he's done squat for an underperforming Astana. (Dammit I got him too.)
- Besides Sagan, any sprinters on this team? Yes! Gaviria! He of the broken hand! (I got him too dammit dammit dammit.)
But now to you. What happened?
- You don't have Peter Sagan on your team. Eight of the top 10 teams do and no doubt a bunch of the others within shouting range of the top 10 have him as well. There's no reason to think that Sagan will stop with his rampantness. I have the feeling that such a stat will be brought up again at season's end.
- You don't have Cancellara on your team. Seven of the top 10 had him and you didn't. Shame on you. Five to the top 10 had Cance AND Sagan. (I didn't have either. I make the damn price lists then fail to pick the obvious two high scorers this year.) But have hope dear reader because Fabian will get relatively few points from here on out. (Now watch Spartacus hog the pink jersey for 10 days, then win his national races-both of them, then hold the yellow jersey for 10 days then win the Olympics-both races, the for the hell of it win both Worlds races because only he will be able to handle the 50 degree heat in Qatar. Then he'll win Abu Dubai tour just for kicks.)
- You don't have Zakarin, Couquard, Colbrelli, Stuyven and Rowe on your team, like top ranked Floris Gerts does. (Floris of course also has Sagan and Cancellara.) Basically you aren't Floris Gerts. Shame on you. Shame on your mom for not naming you Floris Gerts. What was she thinking?
- But seriously, this is the time when most of the top teams are single day racer heavy and they will inevitably sink and the stage racer heavy teams move up and hold on through the end of the year. I have a snapshot of the VDS standings as of this morning and will use it to compare to the standings in late August and then late October.