I’m not saying self-reflection is a good thing, but when it comes to the FSA Directeur Sportif, self-reflection is all we have. For example, my team isn’t doing anything special. Why did I think Fabio Aru was going to have a big year? What sort of severe logical breakdown occurred to lead me to that decision? Nobody knows, or wants to know. But you and I both know, it’s time to start taking real stock of what’s happened this season.
The question is, how? Anyone can look at the standings, which tell you how you’re doing in comparison to a bunch of people you didn’t look in the eye in some moment of hand-to-hand combat as you started to form your team. It’s nice that they’re doing well, but it’s neither your doing nor your fault. The only thing that’s your fault is the state of your team, in and of itself.
So how can you look at your team and determine if you’re having a good season, without respect to where your team ranks? My team, the Eagles of Ellezelles (named after the best wafel shop ever), are ranked 345 out of just under 900 teams. If there’s a threshold for doing OK with no distinction whatsoever and, oh, depressing mediocrity, I think I’m maybe just on the right side of that line. Hoo-ray.
So, any team worse than mine is maybe kinda up shit creek. And the teams that should feel good about their season, they’re doing better than me. Maybe a lot better than me. Let’s say top 100, or better yet top 80. The 90th percentile.
The season is about 2⁄3 through. A team that’s doing well should be catching and passing the point total of its assembled players from last year, right? To illustrate, my current team is made up of riders who amassed 10,601 points last season. Since we all get the same amount of bucks to spend and values are tied to last year’s point total, and most teams seem to have 2017 totals in the 10-12k range. And if you or I did a good job finding value in that roster, it should be creeping up on or surpassing last year’s total. The Eagles are at -1790 compared to last year. That’s basically the difference between selecting Fabio Aru for your team or just lighting those bucks on fire.
Is this a good standard? Let’s hunt around a bit more. The top team, Wheeling and Dealing, have lapped their past (conspicuously low) total of 9924 and soared to 13,665. Two-thirds of the way in, they are crushing their past record. That’s what it takes to get to the very top.
Curiously, very few of the top 100 teams are on anything resembling the same pace. OK, there are two teams off the front, and things start to cluster from places 3 through 10 and so forth, in the 12-12,5 range. But a lot of those teams had pretty high point totals last year, and even the 10th-placed team, A Kristoffer You Can’t Refuse (nice one), just eeked past its 2017 number this weekend.
Shifting gears, another way to tell how well your team is doing is just going down the list of riders who, individually, have already passed by their 2017 total. Anyone at that point is a mortal lock to be a good value, and in general the more riders you have who are good value picks, at any price, the better you’re doing.
Picking one of the top teams, let’s look at Broken Down, Breaking Hard and Breaking Away, the team of Celticpride. Fifteen of the Brokens’ 25 riders have surpassed their 2017 number, and his top scorer, Peter Sagan, is about to next time he pushes a pedal in anger. Another four or five should get there before long. By contrast, for the Eagles of Ellezelles, that number is 10 of 25 that have made it into Value Village, with maybe three or four certain to join them soon. It’s safe to say that most of Celticpride’s picks were scores, and something like half of mine were. That’s the difference between excellence and mediocrity.
What’s your number? Are you creeping up on or past your 2017 total? How many of your riders have moved into the value column? How have those things translated into your overall ranking?
Just a moment to single out a few teams working on themes. These are people who know who they are and what they stand for, and they just go out and bring it day after day. Take Rawls and Team Zugzwang. The Zugzwangs are all about the letter Z, and 18 of 25 have an initial Z in their name, with the rest featuring the letter z prominently. Respect.
Another is Fausto Coppi’s Handsaw and his Sprinty One-Pointy Pro-Conti Full Monty team. All 25 are one-point riders from pro-conti teams, and while nobody has cracked 500 points, Fausto is crushing his 2017 team total and 15 of his riders have zoomed past their 2017 number.
Several other teams went with a low-cost roster, which means that if you are looking for the real Lanterne Rouge, it goes to Alexjones 94 and his DealTeam 6. The Deal Team is underperforming last year by 7000 points and fully three individuals have improved on their last year’s performance. Of nearly 900 teams, someone was bound to his on the quadfecta of Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish, Michael Matthews and Adam Yates, four big busts in 2018. Not quite Fabio Aru bust-level, but working on it. Congrats Alex!
OK, if you aren’t depressed yet, you are either winning already or your roster for the summer and fall classics is loaded. Or you’re sitting back waiting for a fourth world title from Sagan. Which way is your squad headed? Me, I believe in Fabio for the Vuelta. We’re not dead yet.