With the Vuelta about to rain points down on several of this year’s top competitors, and a rapidly diminishing slate of races to make up any remaining gaps, it’s time to look in on the world’s greatest English-language season-long cycling fantasy game, the FSA Directeur Sportif!
It’s been another fine year for the competition, which is again painfully tight at the top of the standings and won’t be sorted out until close to the final day. Let’s take a quick gaze at how things are playing out.
The Vuelta Effect
With the final grand tour of the year, a large blob of points is about to be made available to everyone, and though Matteo Trentin has been a big scorer, he’s already made his bones. Last-day points are about jerseys, especially the red one, and the people on pace to reward their FSA DS owners are as follows:
- Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Wilco Kelderman, Ilnur Zakarin, and Alberto Contador are all in position to earn more than 300 points, with a victorious Froome potentially adding one or two more jerseys to push his total closer to 800 if he can seal the deal.
- Another 175-275 (and more, depending on other jerseys) await Miguel Angel Lopez, Michael Woods, Fabio Aru, Wout Poels and Steven Kruijswijk.
Lining those names up with the top teams shows how much is still in play from this one race, let alone the rest of the calendar. Right now the standings for the top ten show the following, with their Vuelta impacts noted:
- Team Igloo, 11.973 points (has Contador)
- \o/, 11,753 (Zakarin)
- Ah, j’ai deux roues mais la dalle, 11,489 (none of the above)
- Mamie Nova, 11,471 (Zakarin and Kruijswijk)
- Pingu, 11,469 (Zakarin)
- The Bitter Taste of Zakarin, 11,420 (Zakarin and Kruijswijk)
- I Swear This Made Sense in February..., 11,403 (Contador)
- Black Foresters, 11,384 (Contador, Zakarin)
- Tiesj Means Nothing To Me, Oh Vienna, 11,326 (Zakarin, Aru)
- Celeste, 11,286 (Zakarin, Woods)
Our site’s weird bias against Froome, or maybe his lack of charisma, or maybe even his 36 point cost, means that the top-rated team with the Kenyan on board is Emma Watson, sitting 17th at 11,026, and with no other help they will bound into the top five or thereabouts, but maybe just barely. Froome could completely blow the competition apart, if others had bought in, but of course those 36 points could have bought you Zak and Tom Dumoulin too, and paid off more handsomely. So picking Froome was a reasonable way to go in this year’s competition, but hardly a necessary one.
Ilnur Zakarin’s presence on seven of the top ten teams probably means seven owners salivating at their prospects, until they read this column or otherwise look up the standings and gaze at just how thoroughly they will cancel each other out. Black Foresters, with both Contador and Zakarin, are looking at a move into third or fourth place, with Tiesj Means Nothing To Me, Oh Vienna right on his or her heels thanks to the Zak/Aru combo. And that name, by the way, sent me on an age-appropriate two hour internet wormhole, ending in the conclusion that Midge Ure can really fucking sing. I guess if I were Scottish I would have remembered that part.
After the Vuelta
There are no less than 36 events pending, other than the Vuelta, including the ongoing Tour of Britain and the two Canadian grand prix races which will score before the Vuelta is through or just hours later, so even my calculations above are incomplete. [Lars Boom is sitting pretty in Britain, and the top team with him is another brilliant name, Ah, J’ai Deux Roues Mais La Dalle.] Most of the remaining events are small-haul cat 5 and 6 races, but Britain is cat-3, the Canadian ones cat-4, and the World Championships and Lombardia all cat-2. Then we have four Italian classics rated cat 4 and the Tour of Guangxi cat-3, and before you ask, that rating is automatically assigned based on World Tour status. So there is still plenty left to play for.
Kill Me Now
I’ve been silently weeping over my disastrous decision to latch myself onto Nairo Quintana’s own disastrous decision to attempt the Giro-Tour double, but the Colombian is far from the biggest anchor weighing down anyone’s teams. Hell, he’s not even the biggest Colombian flameout. Currently that status belongs emphatically to Esteban Chaves, checking in with a mere 72 points, and not a whole lot more on the way as he treads water at the Vuelta in 12th place. [Fernando Gaviria has rescued the nation’s honor by already passing his 2016 total with much more on the way.] Peter Sagan’s production has been halved as well, and though he is in Quebec ready to pad his still-respectable totals, he won’t come close to justifying the 48-point cost. Julian Alaphilippe has been another expensive downer. And by season’s end, we might just recognize Diego Ulissi as the year’s biggest sunk cost, non-Colombian category, though his beloved Italian classics give him a final shot at tricking next year’s FSA DS players into another round.
I’ll circle back on Sunday with an update to this post once the Vuelta shakes out.