Have you torn your last few locks of hair out yet over your FSA Directeur Sportif team’s Spring Classics performance? Or are you walking around without a care in the world having banked a huge raft of points? I guess there’s another category of people who didn’t draft for the Classics at all. But this being the Podium Cafe, I will assume you are few in number, and really, now is the time to take stock of your team at the quarter-pole.
So... how’d it go? In general, this year’s spring results aren’t terribly different from what you’d expect, with a heavy dose of points to the guys you thought would get them, minus a few conspicuous omissions, and plus some pleasant surprises. Let’s run through them.
Note, this isn’t a comprehensive look at all developments for the 2021 cycling season; we are just talking classics expectations vs performance. For example, since being rebranded as the “Wrong” Yates, Adam has launched a hot spring campaign and is well ahead of his past totals... ever. But he didn’t earn much from the classics, as expected. If you ignored us and scored big off the Wrong Yates, all I can say is, you’re welcome. Now go take your victory lap in comments.
OK, here are winners, losers, and the in-betweeners of note.
Wout Van Aert, 1818 Points
I hesitate slightly here, because Wout could have gone bigger and his season was pretty great by any reasonable standard. The concern is that his remaining chances aren’t as big as some of his peers, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. Ultimately, his ability to score something pretty sizeable just about everywhere is what puts him in this category, and even if his season was a bit slow developing, he’s given his owners tons of confidence in his season going forward.
Tadej Pogačar, 1748 Points
He’s a bit off topic here, but so far he’s scored 400 points in the Classics, bringing him close to his season total from last year, when he won the Tour. So I am not sure what the expectations were for the Slovene, but he just shot past them.
Alejandro Valverde, 1040 Points
“He does this every spring” is something you might think is true, and you won’t be that far off. But the last time he exceeded his 2021 classics haul of 590 points by LBL was 2018, when he was a mere thirtysomething.
Tom Pidcock, 940 Points
His price of 10 points seemed steep at the time. 150 teams disagreed and picked him. Six of them are in the top eight in the overall standings. I hate myself right now.
Tim Merlier, 730 Points
Not a huge step down from Pidcock for the 80-plus teams who had the foresight to pick the Alpecin sprinter. Merlier didn’t go crazy, but he was spot on at every chance he got, wasting no efforts anywhere, with three minor sprint wins and a tidy third at Dwars.
Anthony Turgis, 685 Points
I wouldn’t call this a seismic shift, but the FSA DS is full of guys who you think might grind their way to some nice point hauls, and it’s nice to be right sometimes. [Not that I was, of course.]
Dylan van Baarle, 580 Points
The Dutchman had slipped to the newly-created 3-point category, despite a decent trickle of points and a dollop of unfulfilled promise, which he promptly fulfilled, taking a major classics win at Dwars. Hope you enjoyed his last cheap year.
Christophe Laporte, 400 Points
Chapeau to the 153 teams who remembered that before the pandemic he was on a nice trajectory to classics relevance and scooped him up from the 2-point bargain rack. Needless to say, I ... ah, let’s move on.
Mark Cavendish, 427 Points
Can I get an “aaawwwwwww!!” for the Manx Missile? His Scheldeprijs alone was well worth the single point spent to acquire him.
Mikel Honore, 557 Points
It’s not like I spent a week compiling a supposedly comprehensive list of all the young riders aiming to score big this year or anything. Maybe the Dane missed the cut by a year — he is 24, pretty old for a cycling superstar nowadays. But one late February weekend in France was enough to make him a winter star.
Oliver Naesen, 160 Points
Yves Lampaert, 260 Points
I am lumping these two together because 1) Andrew almost certainly built his team around both of them; and 2) they suffered from the same case of Le-Fever, that violently mixed feeling you get when you are working your ass off for the world’s best classics team, only to see one of your teammates on hot form heading up the road. Will there be champagne tonight? Almost certainly yes. Will people pat you on the back for a job well done? Sure, at some point. Will your agent score you a big contract as a result? Not a chance. Naesen’s case is less acute — he rides for AG2R, after all, and it wasn’t that long ago when he was the head honcho. But now he’s Van Avermaet’s guy, and that’s that.
Peter Sagan, 420 Points
You could hope, right? I mean, this is Peter Godverdomme Sagan we are talking about! And he did bounce back quickly from COVID to take fourth at MSR, but the results slowed down from there. Obviously all is not lost, but having cost 22 points, it may take something dramatic for him to pay off his 81 faithful owners.
Alexander Kristoff, 140 Points
The ever-cruel classics just managed to evade Kristoff’s grasp this year, just as it looked like he was putting together another big spring. The sprinters’ peloton is still in flux, though, so he could come back around and end up at a decent point total. For a 20-point guy? Nah.
Marc Hirschi, 200 Points
Another 18-pointer, and given his breakout last year, he enticed no less than 288 teams into nabbing the Swiss phenom. But a rocky winter left him in bad shape for the season, including most recently a diagnosis of a difference in leg length that accounted for his poor fitness of late. The problem with spring stars is that they need winter to go to plan, and that’s far from Hirschi’s experience. Bet on him next year when his price drops though.
Jakob Fuglsang, 175 Points
Time running out on the Astana Ardennes stalwart? This is a huge dropoff, so even though it’s early, that 18 point cost is looking like a sunken one now. Hey, maybe he should eat more?
Stefan Kung, 335 Points
He’s 27 now, is it time to let go of the idea that he’s one of the raft of new cobbles stars? He’s still plenty good, but to recover the 12 bucks you spent on him will require some big doings in the ITTs and BinckBank and the like.
Tim Wellens, 140 Points
If you spent 14 points on the punchy Belgian climber, you were doing so with the hopes of a return to his pre-pandemic form when he was a top-20-ish rider in the entire world, a good bit of that coming in springtime. And maybe you only have yourself to blame. But it didn’t help that his team put him through all of the cobbled classics, rather than saving him for Flanders, Brabantse Pijl and the Ardennes like they did in his more effective seasons. If there is a reason for doing this... it’s probably looking too good right now.
Niki Terpstra, 0 Points
For two measly points spent, the chance at another Terpstra Miracle seemed tasty enough. Alas, miracles don’t happen for old guys in cycling.
Philippe Gilbert, 140 Points
I mean, what were you thinking?
Mathieu van der Poel, 1226 Points
Is this a good number? It’s about 2⁄3 of his score from all of last year with Paris-Roubaix to go, not to mention various other venues where the Dutch star is expected to haul in some points. It feels like a let-down, but I can’t just leave him off the list, and the truth is that van der Poel owners should probably feel fine with it all. It’s just that they expected to be turning cartwheels now.
Julian Alaphilippe, 960 Points
Similarly, Ala owners might be unsure what to think here. The Frenchman was good, scored a good number compared to last season’s grand total of 1335, and appears to be on course to pay off his price tag. It gets a bit iffier if you think about where points have come from in recent years, though. He’s scored a bunch at the Tour, especially two seasons ago, and I wouldn’t put too much money on that scenario repeating itself. But with Worlds and Olympics playing into his hands, and his rainbow status forcing the French Fed to give him some support, chances are he will surpass his 2020 total, if not by any dramatic amount.
Filippo Ganna, 60 Points
Looks a lot worse than it is. He probably doesn’t belong on this list, except for the fact that people speculated he could score at Paris-Roubaix... and he may yet. He will also have Worlds, Nats and Olympics to grind out some ITT points, possibly a lot of them, although the competition is hot on his heels. If you bet on him repeating his Giro score from 2020, that’s a bit of a crapshoot, but it’s hardly a no either.
Kasper Asgreen, 600 Points
Super weird to see him here, but for his owners, when you crunch the numbers, you’re left more with a sense of relief that he managed two huge, career-defining wins rather than allow his FSA DS season to go careening off a cliff. He is coming off an 890-point performance, his best since 2019 when he was second in Flanders and nabbed a nice haul at the... Tour of California. Sigh. The reality is, he has time trials where he can score more points, but his pickings get slim after this. Well, there is Paris-Roubaix hanging out there still as well. So he may yet put together his best season. But he has to thread the needle, and that’s after winning Flanders. So weird.