We seem to do this every year, and for one reason: every year the FSA Directeur Sportif competition gets narrower and narrower. This year it’s coming down to the wire again, and while one team looks good to win one of the competitions, exactly none of the podium places are etched in stone. Let’s dive in.
Without ado, here are the top ten rankings for the men’s competition:
- TH WHISTLER, Riding With Knobs Plus, 19096 points
- Archieboy, Wheeling & Dealing, 18779
- stultzer, Marginal Gains18609
- Birillo, La roue ceyratoise, 18456
- PrinceBuster, DON’T BE SCARED HOMIE, 18112
- jje, One more time, Alejandro, 17941
- misterbob568, A Kristoffer you can’t refuse, 17796
- Romainuchimata, EscartinTeam, 17716
- Wantok, The Official Mt Hagan Cycling Wantoks, 17555
- ChefSpijker, Que sí, que no!, 17481
A few notes on this list...
- No less than three names referencing a specific rider, including two active ones, and one former rider’s dog. I can generally support this, especially when it ends up looking like you predicted the world championships (chapeau jje). And given that turn of events, I suspect we will be hearing a few more dog names for a while.
- If the handle TH WHISTLER and its all-capped goodness rings a bell, it’s because you were playing the FSA DS in 2016 when he WON THE ENTIRE COMPETITION. TH is on the verge of taking sole possession of the all time FSA DS wins category, although there are a few others who have had multiple podiums.
- Has he won yet? I’d say definitely no, although his team is powered by Alejandro Valverde and the new champ is planning to debut his rainbow duds at Lombardia. Wheeling and Dealing, lying second, have Valverde too, but that’s it until you get to One More Time Alejandro (natch), who are over 1000 points out of the lead. So a top ride by Valv should winnow the race down to these two teams.
- For WHISTLER and Archieboy (W&D DS) to lose to one of the reasonably close chasers would mean that Julian Alaphillippe did something special, as he seems to be the biggest name on both Marginal Gains and La Roue Ceyratoise capable of a big result in Italy. Personally I am not betting on this happening, if only because Valverde is in fine shape, and Riding With Knobs Plus has a massive team for Paris-Tours: Oliver Naesen, Soren Kragh Andersen and Yves Lampaert.
- Before losing hope, note that there are no less than 17 events left, including six stages at the Presidential Tour of Turkey and the UCI Tour of Guangxi, plus another Hammer Series event in Hong Kong. It ain’t over til it’s over, and it’s not over.
- Even with all that racing left, the top teams are over 18.000 points with the Knobs topping 19k, maybe even threatening to hit 20,000 points before we are officially done. Last year the winner had a shade under 16,000. Some past totals (rounded off): 19,000 (‘16); 14,000 (‘15), 17,000 (‘14), 14k again (‘13). I’m not entirely sure what conclusions to draw. 2016 was an Olympic year, which adds a big scoring opportunity to the calendar, but riders can only ride so many events a year, so adding more races to the calendar doesn’t necessarily mean more scoring. I would guess it has more to do with the top riders killing it that year, such as Sagan’s 4300-point performance in 2016, and a lot of people signing up for that. But this is the biggest year ever, and Valverde leads with 3113. If things ended today, that would be the lowest total by a top-ranked rider since we started the competition.
- abovo, Bibo ergo sum, 14493 points
- Aschwin, Sportpromotions, 14475
- unclekutter, Kutter Cycling, 14424
- mickeynz, Is it too late?, 14325
- lilliekhogg, The Velo-ciraptors, 13674
- Dave-L, Granny Annie’s Lassies, 13142
- dreamer_mg, The Smurf Village, 13100
- Furbo, ERP - Fenixs, 13064
- Von Hansel, Segreto di Vittoria, 13064
- kablebike, Meandering fireflies, 12952
- Yeah, the leader in the women’s comp has an 18-point lead in October. Fortunately, that’s not the final standings, as it would have been as recently as 2015, the last year when we ended the competition after the World Championships. To make things even more ridiculous, Kutter Cycling is a mere 51 points back of Sportpromotions, the team breathing down the neck of leader Bibo ergo sum. Fourth-placed asks Is it too late? and the answer is probably not, although 170 points is starting to seem like a tall order. From there things drop 800 points so it’s safe to say we have four teams left in pursuit of the podium.
- Predicting anything now would be pretty tough, however. Startlists aren’t very helpful for the final four races — Giro dell’Emilia, GP Beghelli, Chrono des Nations and Tour of Guangxi — and World Champ Anna van der Breggen is on the top two teams. Worse, Sportpromotions also has Annemiek van Vleuten, but her season is finished. It may be riders like Marta Bastianelli, Tatiana Guderzo and Elisa Balsamo who decide matters in Italy.
- kablebike ♀8. Meandering fireflies + ♂17.Meandering fireflies = Comined rank: 25
- mathieug ♀23. Albrecht and Jalad at Vårgårda + ♂7. The Magical Valverde Tour = Combined rank: 30
- sastre08 ♀34. Esas laydis + ♂11. Team Fiestina = Combined rank: 45
In my view these are the only three teams in contention, but I could be wrong. It’s a little hard to handicap because a lot of the teams in the men’s bracket aren’t eligible for the combined ranking. So I can tell you that kablebike is in a gruppetto of a dozen teams in the women’s competition, with more chances of moving up than down, while on the men’s side I have no idea where s/he stands, other than 66th overall. MathieuG probably can’t move up or down much on the men’s side but could regain those precious five placings on the women’s side with a little luck. Esas Laydis could easily move up ten spots on the women’s side (again, with luck) but would need something special from the hombres.
That’s it for now. We will have more to say about how the races were won once the competitions come to a close after Guangxi. Keep grindin folks.