So, there’s an advert series that ran in the UK around this time every year for ages. It was for creme eggs and it was based on the idea that everyone eats them in a different way, and that there’s no such thing as the right way to eat them. This is, of course, balderdash. The correct way to eat them is obviously to bite off the top and then lick out the fondant (creme, I guess) and then finish the chocolate. No other methods are acceptable.
On the other hand, building an FSA-DS team? That’s something that people can go about in a whole range of ways. I’m only going to mention a few of my picks, and I don’t think anyone else wants to give their teams away, but we can definitely take a moment to talk about strategy. Here’s a few ways to pick. What have I missed, and which way do you choose?
The Theme Team
Too many people to pick from? Looking to make it easier? Well, narrow the field with some kind of theme. We’ve seen all sorts - A-Z gets talked about, but I don’t think anyone has ever actually managed it. 26 letters and 25 riders, which means you can skip X or Z. We’ve seen national teams (Belgian, Spanish, French are all feasible) and we’ve even seen a team of previously convicted dopers. If you want people to take an interest in your team (or help you build it) think of a theme, is my advice.
The Random Team
This was new last year but is immense. Superted has set us up with a way to pick a team that follows the rules and takes no work. When you go to the page where you can start hiring riders, with “My Team 2018” at the top of the page, you will see a line under “Roster” which has a link to create a random team. Give it a go.
The big guys
If you take Sagan at 48, and two of the 22 pointers, you can get 92 points for three riders. Leaving just 58 for the remaining 22 riders. Grab a couple of 16 pointers too, and you have five huge names to anchor your team around. Of course, you’ll need to strike gold with your one and two point riders to make it work, but that can be done. 26 points for the last 20 riders, a true test of cycling knowledge.
The little guys
Don’t like that approach? There’s 26 riders priced at 6 points this year. Find one you don’t fancy, leave him out, and you have a team with 25 evenly-priced riders for your full 150 points. You won’t get one of the biggest names in the sport, but you’ll have interest in basically every race on the calendar with riders who win races.
We’ve got 8 years worth of data on the website. 1,341 riders this year, and 4,077 since the competition started. You can mine it more or less however you want. My spreadsheet is available here, feel free to play with it. I use it to get quick and easy filters and to build a long-list of riders so I can pick teams in different ways.
You can go deeper - ever wondered which race has the most predictive value for the next year’s performance? Figure it out and let us know. I think it is probably Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but I haven’t found a clever enough way to analyse it.
What’s better, young riders with potential or established stars? Who knows... but the numbers are there. Ursula uses different pricing strategies each year, so you can’t go fully sabermetric, but have a play... it might just get you the perfect team.
The rider you picked up last year for 2 points who sprung for 600? Sure, he’s 8 points now, but why abandon him? He could be a star! Equally, that guy you spent 6 points on who did nothing? He’s cheaper now! So, you see, there’s really no reason not to stick with the same team you were so fond of last year.
Me, I’m trying to find room for the same old guys I always pick up - Edward Grosu, Rudy Molard, and so on. It took me years to wean myself off Robert Gesink, but I managed it. Of course, this year, he’s only two points, so maybe he’s back to being value.
Of course, you’re not like the rest of us. You don’t need to crunch the numbers, and you don’t need to reduce the field. You know cycling, you know riders, and you just start at the top of the list and work your way down. You click on the plus button, get down to the last one-pointer you knew you wanted, and guess what? 150 points, 25 riders. It took you ten minutes, no regrets, and you expect another top 50 finish.
I hate you.
How do I
eat pick mine? Well, I have a few guys I like who I don’t think have broken out yet, and I suppose I’m still going after the reruns. I’ve mentioned my spreadsheet, so you know I like a stat-attack approach. As I only get one team, I’m ruling out the theme team, big guy or little guy approach.
Basically, I’ll do what I always do - make a list of medium/big priced riders who I think are safe for 75pp, and a list of small/medium priced riders who are lottery tickets with a chance of 200pp. They’re my certainties, and I’ll build my team around them. Then I’ll work out how many points I have left, and how many spaces, and go crazy trying to fit too many people into the spaces left. At the moment, I’ve got 4 more 2 pointers than I need, 3 more 1 pointers, and one too many 6 and 14 pointers.
Anyway, that’s how I get through the madness. Me and Florian Senechal. How will you survive until the 21st February?