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Cafe Roundtable: The 2016 FSA Directeur Sportif! With Jimbo and Ursula

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The photo of Jasper Stuyven will make sense eventually.
The photo of Jasper Stuyven will make sense eventually.
Kenzo Trebouillard

The latest in a seemingly never-ending series of chats between the Editors... and some people who maybe are or aren't Editors? Nobody knows what that even means, but I'd like to suggest that we will continue chats with an ever-changing cast of characters. Anyway, with a brief lull in the schedule (sorry Switzerland), we stop to take stock of everyone's favorite subject and/or reason to tear out their hair... the FSA Directeur Sportif! With Jens and me today are Ursula, a/k/a the Devil. And Jimbo, inventor (enforcer?) of the Jimbo Line. Today's discussion is about the men's side of the game. We will take up the ladies very soon. Let's get started!

FSA VDS logo PLEASE USE THIS ONE!

Chris: First question to Ursula: who are your hidden value riders for 2017? Asking for a friend.

Ursula: Good question Chris! Let me answer it by asking another question: so where did the Jimbo line go? It used to be way near the top of the standings. Now?

Chris: OK let's talk about the newest FSA DS Sensation, the Jimbo Line. Jimbo, last year everyone below you really did suck. How about now?

Jimbo: This year everyone above me sucks. Sorry, I meant to say cheats

Chris: Hey! That's my line!

Jimbo: Trademarked it

Chris: Seriously though, it was an inspired idea. Did you intend to become a standard when you invented it?

Jimbo: Considering that I spent all of about 20 minutes picking my team, I think I’m doing pretty good

Jens: The Jimbo line is currently at 231st place. For the purpose of this talk we should maybe explain that ursula is sitting in 81st place while Chris and I are below the line at 548th and 421st place respectively. In case the commentary turns bitter.

Chris: Bitterer? More bitter?

Jimbo: You want to know how I came up with the team name?

Chris: Yep

Jimbo: I don’t remember. I was trying to think of something funny to say about Drew I think. But time ran out.

Jens: I'm losing to a guy who couldn't even come up with a Drew joke? That's kindergarden level stuff.

Jimbo: I know, right? I’ve made thousands of Drew jokes. Turns out that well is not bottomless

Chris: OK Ursula, values!

Ursula: Curses. You want hidden value? Riiiiight. On the other side except for Sagan and a few cheap riders, the Classics guys were not such great values this year. The points were really spread out in Belgium this year. And anyone (like me) who has Gronny is happy happy happy. I presume that doesn’t include you three.

The 8 pointers: there’s 23 of them and there could be 8 of them at over 100ppr by season’s end.

Chris: Are 8-pointers that important?

Ursula: The 8 pointers aren’t vital but are really helpful this year. Like solid domestiques that can win a smaller race too. Like 8 or 9 will be over that 100 ppr mark and 2 already are- Jungles and Coquard. Ulisi is knocking on that door. Yes a Lampre rider can be relevant.

Chris: It seems like the commonest thread for winners is nailing the high-value guy who goes off. I mean, you have to actually spend the 150 points. And the end result is based on who scores a lot. OK so 100 ppr -- that's points scored per point spent, for the uninitiated. That's the magic number?

Jens: Sagan is in almost all the top teams atm. A few Kristoff and Valverde teams but not many.

Chris: And Kristoff was on all of the top teams last year.

Ursula: Prediction: Kristoff will turn out to be okay in terms of value (not nearly what Sagan is)  but Valverde will sink big-time.

Chris: Yeah, Jens' binky -- I mean Valverde, he's going in the wrong direction. But back to 100ppr -- You know who else is pretty sure to score that? Sagan. At 32 points cost.

Ursula: Game over for this year what with Sagan doing that.

Jens: Oh Skip, as usual we think completely opposite. I'm sure Olympics +more will make Valverde great again.

Ursula: Yer nuts Jens.  He’ll come in 3rd in Rio. Then 10th at the Vuelta working for Nairo.

Chris: Does Sagan's cost get over 40 next year? Because at 32 he's not expensive enough to keep from completely tipping this year's competition.

Ursula: Valverde: At 36 points and how old is he? Like 80? He’s Chris Horner’s dad right?

Chris: Ha!

Ursula: Yep we might see the breaking of the 40 point barrier next year.

Jimbo: He’s a deal at 40 points.

Chris: He might ruin all draft leagues.

Jens: A Sagan who has broken the Monument duck...... he's gotta be up there because people will have unlimited faith in him next year.

Ursula: Okay then- 48 points.

Chris: Sold! And in the Editors' League, if you pick Sagan you can't pick again til the third round.

Jens: ursula is working so hard at increasing his popularity.

Ursula: 52 points. and yes to the Eds league rule. Okay okay! 126 points! Pick him and the rest of your team will be 1 pointers.

Jimbo: Someone run the numbers on that for this year. Bet that team would still be beating Chris and Jens. Combined.

Chris: OK, let's go around the table...

Ursula: Wait! An often overlooked group that has value: sprinters that race the little SSRs: Bouhanni, Coquard, Gorenwegen. Every year there is at least one cheap rider who cleans up with those cat 5’s and 6’s.

Jens: \o/

Jimbo: You mean SSRSs

Ursula: Theuns last year. Van Asbroeck the year before, Kittel-was he the year before that?

Chris: Every year there is MASS SPECULATION about the next SSSR guy, and it's usually the cause of broken relationships, dinnerware etc.

Jens: But how easy is it to predict who that guy will be, Ursula? This year a lot of people were obviously on to Groenewegen but how do you know they won't get raced in WT races instead and score bubkis?

Chris: If he's on Etixx-Quick Step, he won't get raced in WT races instead, and will still score bubkis.

Jimbo: Is Vakoc a sprinter?

Chris: Vakoc is an everything guy. Sort of like a more reliable Lampre rider.

Jens: With talent.

Jimbo: Whatever he is, I am very fond of him.

Ursula: This elusive sprinter (and normally they are sprinters) are probably Belgian or Dutch. Or French.

Jens: Thanks ursula, that narrowed it down to 90% of the rider list.

Chris: Never American.

Ursula: Nope.

Chris: Do we not do enough track?

Jens: Maybe if every American who got a top 10 in a World Tour race didn't take it as a sign to aim for the TdF they might make a killing in SSRs.

Ursula: You got to look at where certain teams ride. Like Lotto Jumbo does a lot of local SSRs. Same with Topsport-but they had no really good rider this year.  The problem with the equivalent Yank riders is that there aren't enough north american races for them to clean up.

Ursula: Yeah you got to be real careful with those Etixx guys. Someone always overprices them. (ursula whistles)

What? Too soon?

Chris: Always.

Jimbo: Just because they ride with Boonen does not make them Boonen.

Chris: No, but it does make them his manservant.

Ursula: But people buy them like Boonen.

Chris: OK, let's go around the table and talk approaches. I'm guessing we will demonstrate some sort of... what's the exact opposite of consensus? Italianness?

Jimbo: I’ll go first. I have no approach.

Chris: Your game is that you have no game.

Jimbo: Next year my approach will be to not entirely forget about the existence of grand tours and GC riders. What is this "Vuelta" you keep mentioning?

Chris: Yeah, grand tours are a LOT of race days, a lot of small bushels of points. I've been a Giro-Vuelta enthusiast for a while, but there are ways for that to fail miserably. Let's call it the Landa Effect. And I love Landa, but it only takes one misplaced bacterium for your team to go belly-up.

Ursula:I like Giro-Vuelta too. I spent so long thinking of Chaves. Should have taken him...

Chris: Its appeal is moderate risk, moderate reward. Everyone would love to draft a series of one-pointers who finish on all three grand tour podiums, but more realistically it offers a double helping.

Jens: The Vuelta is where the people with the misplaced bacteria go to save their seasons. (edited)

Chris: Winnar!

Ursula: I see none of us took Cruise Ship….

Jimbo: Who the fuck is Cruise Ship?

Chris: Kruijswijk.

Jens: I must admit I completely forgot his strong Giro comeback last year. But I have never been a big believer in him.

Jimbo: That’s not a real person, right?

Chris: That's another of my strategies, sexy Dutch guys. He stopped being sexy five years ago.

Jens: By "sexy" Chris means "promising, but not yet scoring" . All my guys are sexy.

Chris: No, I mean "OMIGOD I read something at Telesport about him breaking a power meter when he was 16!"

Well one strategy you don't hear anyone talk about is basing their season on the Tour de France winner. It should be noted that the TdF winner has not once been the top scoring rider.

Jimbo: Too focused on the TdF to be worth the price

Chris: But! if you can get a Tour winner cheaply enough (e.g. 18 point Wiggins) then it's a way to win.

Jimbo: But then you would have to pick Wiggins, which is unacceptable. Also, you’d need a time machine

Ursula: On the same lines, not many people picked any expensive Grand Tour rider.

Chris: Right! Ursula, so are people smart or have we oversold the Classics?

Ursula: Hmm. Jens? What do you think?

Chris: Yeah Jens you haven't divulged your secrets to mediocrity yet either.

Jimbo: Jens’ secret is his Norwegian genes.

Ursula: The Pride of Bergen.

Jens: My strategy is and has always been piss-poor. Mainly because I need guys I like and I can't stomach guys I have no feel for like Sagan and Valverde even if I know they will be good value.

Ursula: I think the Classics just turned a bit weird this year. I mean Hayman? Where did that come from? Demare at MSR? Jeez.

Chris: That's what the Classics do. That's all they do. And they will not stop... EVER... until my FSA DS team is dead!

Ursula: But thinking some here, the Classics are undergoing big change with Boonen and Cance fading out and we aren’t sure who will be the next set of dominant Classics guys. (Outside of Sagan of course.) Benoot? Kwiatkowski?

Jimbo: Imagine if Valverde did a Grease tribute video? You can’t imagine it can you? And on the topic of random PR winners, that happens every other year, right?

Jens: Other than that I mainly try to go for riders who I feel are underpriced due to factors outside their control. They had injury, teamtrouble or whatever the year before. This year I was especially determined to pick 1-pointers based on this instead of going for hopelessly unpredictable neo-pros. However sexy.

Ursula: Three words: Floris De Tier.

Is that three words?

Jimbo: Yes. I just counted them

Jens: Benoot will be abandoning the classics already next year, or move towards Ardenne at least. I think it is hard to pinpoint the next bigs.

Chris: Here's the thing about a classics strategy -- you don't know who's going to win, and you will certainly get some interlopers. But you also can name a few guys who you're sure will score a decent haul. It's not a total trap.

Jens: My Rowe pick was based on that Chris. Assumed he wouldn't win but be up there a lot.

Chris: The problem is that they get priced high by being known entities, and they don't tend to score much after April 15.

Ursula: Stuyven came up big for a lot of us. He looks like such a natural in the Classics.

Chris: So you need to find the reliable scorer who either does something else or isn't expensive yet.

Or goes off, like Jimbo's pick of Van Avermaet. As if things weren't bad enough already.

Jimbo: Last gasp of the old guy

Chris: But he scores in Italy in the fall too. And then there's a flat worlds course... I mean, you probably picked him based on his haircut or something, but it was still a good call.

Ursula: 30 points for GVA though….just 20 people bought him. But he might still get 2000.

Jimbo: I picked him because he was the highest priced rider remaining. And that was in the Ed’s league where that matters. Particularly in the first round.

Chris: Sure, if you assume Ursula knows what he's doing.

Ursula: Big IF there.

Jimbo: I have never assumed that

Ursula: Who will score the most or be the best value by season’s end: Quintana, Froome, Pinot, Contador, or Nibali?

Chris: Good question! Not Contador.

Ursula: Though at the moment Contador is leading. he had a very nice-and typical for him-spring. I say Don Nairo though. He wins the Tour and scores somewhere else-Rio and/or Vuelta. He’s only lost to Contador in Pais Vasco.

Jimbo: I hope none of them, because I forgot to pick any of them

Chris: Pinot is already at 882

Jens: Nibali easy. He has just started. Or rather, he would have if he didn't go to the TdF .

Chris: Nobody ever says Froome

Ursula: I’m sorry. Did you just sneeze?

Chris: No, I was staring at my stem

Jens: Froome and Pinot can get sneaky points in the Rio TT too. That is my Rio prediction.

Ursula: And sneaky points are worth more than regular points!

Chris: But! Nibali could win there. [This is what I tell myself at night]

Jimbo: Froome is the beige of cycling. He’s the anti-Sagan.

Sorry, I just fell asleep for a second

Chris: I think it's because when he rides he looks like the MUTOs in Godzilla 2014. Who destroyed San Francisco. Nobody roots for that.

Ursula: So harsh. So true.

Chris: OK, worst value at 24+ points? Let's leave out Degenkolb. Does Aru have the title sewn up? Or can Gilbert give him a run?

Ursula: Phil Gil has crossed the hill.

Chris: J-Rod too. And Bling is not a thing.

Ursula: Bling really needs a new team. He should be dominating.

Jimbo: My heart says Greipel but Aru seems to be sucking pretty well thus far.

Ursula: Doom? I feel like he’s not sure what he should be going for. Loads of talent.

Jens: J-Rod is looking like the real stinker. Gilbert can always win a oneday race or two and get respectable. J-Rod just looks terrible in every race so far.

Chris: Yep. And Doom looks great... at what he does, which will mean a few big ITT point hauls, possibly in Worlds.

Ursula: Okay I change my vote to J-Rod. Its been a nice career. is he the best recent rider to have never won a Grand Tour?

Jimbo: Who the fuck is Doom?

Chris: Dumoulin

Jimbo: You kids and your nicknames.

Chris: Ursula, points-wise totally. He's been a great buy since we started the game in 2007. As to pedigree, probably yes there too.

Jimbo: J-Rod has underachieved for sure.

Jens: No J-Rod is more like the most overhyped GT rider recently. Great at what he does but he was always going to need metric shit tons of luck to actually win a GT. (edited)

Chris: OK but JJ Rojas won one... But I agree, it's about expectations, and maybe we all just should have remembered that he can't time trial his way out of a wet paper bag.

Jimbo: Jens keeps editing his comments to make himself look smarter.

Chris: He's smart that way.

Jens: It's the norse genes.

Chris: OK, one last big subject, let's look down at the low cost guys. I'd say the biggest change since we started the game is the level of attention people pay to guys from 1 to 4 points. Not that it's not still a crapshoot, but of course everyone has figured out that you need some value there. It's probably the thing I'm most proud of, that we invented a game that actually does add a lot of value to people's experience of the sport.

And with that said, how the fuck is Jasper Stuyven one point!?!

Ursula: (ursula gets very quiet)

Jimbo: You mean old "J-Stu"? New nickname

Chris: This is probably the point where I should mention that Jens and I both review Ursula's suggested price lists.

Jimbo: Trademarked

Chris: J-Stuy?

Jens: Jaz!!

Jimbo: Shut up

Jens: Stuyven has been low scoring all the way until now, despite how hyped he was coming off Livestrong.  I had started doubting he would go to the winning level so the 1p seemed fair. He had proved little.

Jimbo: I was about to complain that you didn’t let me review the price list, but then I remembered that nothing sounds less fun to me than reviewing the price list.

Chris: You are totally reviewing the price list this winter.

Ursula: HonestlyI am surprised that so many people picked him.

Jimbo: He’s on 310 teams? WTF?

Chris: He's no Sondre Holst Enger

Jens: Dumoulin was a bit the same. Not super hot right from his pro debut but then lived up to the promise a few years in.

Jimbo: You mean  old "SHE"?

Chris: He gets that a lot I'm sure.

Ursula: That’s for sure. Or how about Imanol "Cuddles" Erviti? Gonna win Flanders next year!

Chris: What's cool is that very few of the top-scoring one-pointers were totally overlooked. Only Cuddles Erviti, who's an older guy we had (rightly) written off.

Ursula: …like Brambilla. Nice year.

Chris: Daniel McLay is on six teams! Lukasz Wisniowski is on 16! Anthony Turgis 17! Enger is on 50!

Ursula: We are entering the Era of Roglic. 108 teams.

Jens: Stuyven had that magic quality of having been on "anglo" teams and thus being a known name.

Ursula: ...Looking at the 16-22 point riders…..overall not much value? Alaphilippe looks like a sure thing even coming back from mono. Bouhanni keeps winning the Tour of (insert obscure French town here). Demare, even after winning MSR is meh. And those are the good riders in this price range.

Chris: Yeah, we must have seen him do something.

Ursula: And, yes, I am hinting at the future with that last comment.

Chris: Bardet might be the big pick in there before we're done. And don't laugh at Edvald. [It hurts my feelings.] I do like that we tricked 25 people into buying Tony Gallopin at 20.

Ursula: I thought EBH would be doing better too.

Jimbo: How many times have I heard that sentence?

Chris: He'll pay off but not in any interesting way, just his usual value.

Ursula: Looking at teams and laughing….Cannondale ladies and gentlemen.  Or I’ll see your Gallopin and raise you a Slagter. Oy.

Chris: OK this is running long, let's end with one last thought. On any FSA DS related subject. [Also apologies that this is all dudes, we will do a Women's chat and include the FSA DS Women's comp separately, with a different group.]

Jimbo: Yes, when do I get my new carbon cranks?

Chris: When indeed.

Ursula: I’m in 80th place and I have no idea what is going on. I’m like one of those pictures with the golden retriever and the test tubes. Clueless. But happy.

Chris: My final thought is that Clydesdale, inventor of the early 1.0 version of the VDS, is winning the Editor's League. And yes, he has Sagan. But he also took Bryan Coquard in the fourth round, so there.

Ursula: Oh and FYI- possibly the deepest best stage race outside of the world tour races: Arctic tour of norway. But Jens already knew that. (edited)

Chris: Oil money. Oy.

Jens, anything to add?

Jens: (Sorry , had a cooking disaster. )

Chris: we are totally leaving that in

Ursula: herring ain’t gonna cook itself.

Jimbo: I just want to say thanks to you all for the time you put into VDS. Sincerely.

Also, may you all rot in hell. sincerely

Jens: Alaphilippe is the best case for not believing a word riders say about their form and illness. Damn . Mono. He should be a corpse this season, instead he is making me slap myself for not picking him.

Chris: We don't have enough bandwidth for my list of regrets.

OK, we're done! Thank you to FSA, a/k/a Full Speed Ahead, our sponsor for the Directeur Sportif over the last 4+ years. Their quality parts are all over my road bike, easily the fastest bike I've ever been associated with. But your MTB, CX and city bikes might be just as happy with their lines of componentry and wheels. Check em out!

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