The weather outside might still tell you winter has another six weeks or months or, in the case of Massachusetts, six years to go. But! The reality is that your winter of discontentedly waiting for the FSA Directeur Sportif Competition to begin again is over.
The. Game. Starts. NOW.
Superted actually opened the game late last night, but I’m in transit from the UCI Cyclocross World Championships, so if you’re already in the game without the need for this formal announcement, good for you. For everyone else, here is what you need to play. It’s simple and forever free of charge. Just two main requirements:
- Be a member of the Podium Cafe; and
- Head on over to the FSA Directeur Sportif game site and get started!
More signup details below, including some important FAQs, but for 95% of you it’s a snap!
This Year’s Game
What’s not to love? After the total COVID WTF year, followed by a “we can’t say but fingers crossed” version last year, we are currently scheduled for full normalcy in the cycling world. Maybe the calendar will get scrambled again but so far the craziness is limited to Paris-Roubaix being pushed off by an election, the implication being that French voters won’t turn out if there is pavé to be navigated. Pretty cool! But yeah, that makes for a light dose of oddity.
Beyond that, however, a handful of races have reappeared after being missed in the past couple seasons, and the rest found their way back to their originally-intended spot on the calendar. Note, I did not include any 2.1 races this year, and did the categories by strictly following UCI ratings (except categories 5 and 6 where some guesswork is involved). If you see any errors or ratings you think are wrong, please feel free to email me and we can consider potential changes. But we have actually combed through the calendar a lot, so we might stick to our guns.
Overall, I expect a brilliant season. Both the men’s and women’s cycling scenes are stockpiling potent riders like cold war superpowers packing their nuclear arsenals. Only in this case, we hope and expect them to be deployed as often and as powerfully as possible. Both categories are awash in young talent making serious waves as well as dependable veteran stars ready to pilot your team. I think (?!?) the prices aren’t especially high this year, in the Year 1 A.U. (after Ursula), but you can let me know what you think about that in comments.
Meet Our Sponsors: FSA and VISION
This marks season number 12!! where I am proud to open this competition in conjunction with our most excellent sponsor, FSA. Known formally as Full Speed Ahead, and in tandem with its partner brand VISION, FSA is one of the few real leaders in cycling componentry. To wit:
- FSA is the main line of world class Road and MTB components. Their cockpits, chainrings and cranks will be ridden by no fewer than 13 teams (men and women squads) this year, headlined by EF, Jumbo, Cofidis and Bahrain in the World Tour and Bingoal, Rally, B&B Hotels, Caja Rural and other top pro outfits. FSA is gaining a big a presence in the top levels of mountain biking, where they were all over the World Cup and Olympics last year. Check out the Powerbox crankset, shown below, or the K-Force cockpits for which they have been famous in the peloton for a long time (and the K-Wing version that is a hit with the cobbles squads).
- Vision focuses mainly on road and triathlon with components engineered for aerodynamics and speed. Both my road and cross bikes are powered by Vision, particularly the Metron wheels that have made more than a few Tour de France appearances and have been used in the professional ranks since 2013. Metron wheels will usher Jumbo-Visma into the winning circle this year, along with EF Education EasyPost and Bahrain Victorious, both of whom did exceptionally well with their Metrons and cockpits last year. Trust me, they are very fast, even when I’m the person they are conveying. Take a look at the Metron 45s and Metron 60s for super light and fast rides in varying rim sizes.
These guys know cycling from all angles. Based in Italy, Taiwan and Mukilteo, Washington, their reach stretches across the globe. And in keeping with tradition, this year’s FSA Directeur Sportif winners will receive a prize from the company, typically one or more of their top-line products or clothing.
The Submission Deadline!
As always, please note that the deadline is February 19 at 11:59pm, CET. This is a week earlier than some past years, in order to maximize the calendar, starting with the UAE Tour. Please plan ahead and talk to me if you have any problems. We have done this several times, starting a full week ahead of the Omloop — which is the first race of the women’s calendar, so there is a bit of waiting to be done there. But past experience tells us that you can get your teams submitted in three weeks, and with all of us excited for the season to blast out of the starting gate, we want to get underway as soon as we can.
OK, enough preamble. Here is what you need to know, in case you didn’t read the last ten versions of this post. The full set of rules are here, but I’ll highlight the biggies.
- You cannot play without first registering at the Podium Cafe! That’s our one requirement. This helps assure that there is one team per person in each of the men’s and women’s competitions— nobody can have multiple teams in one competition. This also helps to assure that you’re part of the community for whom we do all this stuff, free of charge. Are you lurking here? That’s cool, but you need to click on the Sign Up button in the upper right corner of this page, and create an actual Cafe login, first. Once you have set up your login, which is very fast and also completely free, you can then start at the Game Site.
- As you can see, the game site is a separate entity. Go there to make your team, come back here to chat about it.
- Basic structure for the Men’s game: you have up to 150 points to spend and you must compile a roster of 25 riders. You can only have one rider who costs 24 points or more, and only a total of three at or over 18 points (including the guy who costs 24+). Until your team meets all of these requirements, any attempt to submit it will be rejected.
- Basic structure for the Women’s game, which is quite different than the men’s game: 150 point budget to spend on 15 riders, and you can spend up to 100 points on riders valued at 20 points or higher.
- Our comprehensive list of available riders in both the men’s and women’s games are all of the riders we think will be of interest. But that means we subtract some riders who haven’t scored in a while. And while we do our best to add up-and-comers, there are too many for us to nail 100%. So if you want someone who you don’t see listed, contact us ASAP and we will add them as one-point options. [Please limit this to riders who you are at least possibly interested in picking. No obligation to buy! But we aren’t striving to list everyone with a license.]
- Having both a men’s team and a women’s team will also make you eligible for the Combined Rankings, another possible feather in your cap! Winner of the combined ranking is eligible for prizes!
- Team-building: you have nearly three weeks to mess around, swap riders in and out of your lineup, and so forth. Until you hit “submit” — and you will know when you have done so because a prompt will ask you if you’re sure — then your team is still open to changing. Some people go with their gut and submit today (like, before I can even finish this post). Others tinker right up to the deadline. Both are valid ways to make a team that loses to mine. But at some point you have to hit submit. Remember... if the team fits, you must hit submit.
- Or just make a random team! That was a thing we created a couple years back. OK, Superted, our Game Designer and Chief Executioner, came up with it. When you go to the page where you can start hiring riders, with “My Team 2021” at the top of the page, you will see a line under “Roster” which has a link to create a random team. You can play around with that all you want, and it won’t actually become your team unless and until you submit it. But try that before you start carefully building your team, if you don’t want your half-baked roster to disappear.
- Once the UAE Tour begins, there are no in-season adjustments, no game-day decisions. Just submit your roster and follow them. This is pretty much how cycling works: everyone is riding a race somewhere for most of the season. There are no injury lists and no trades; you just ask the fittest person on your roster to try and win.
- The DEADLINE is Saturday, February 19 at 11:59pm, Central European Time (CET). That’s 11pm Saturday the UK. In the US, that’s also known as 6pm Eastern time, and 3pm Pacific. Teams submitted after that point will not be accepted. [We switched to 11:59pm from the usual midnight and its inherent date confusion.]
If you have some sort of problem, please try the comments for a quick response or email me (fsadirecteursportif[at]gmail[dawt]com) and I’ll help you out as soon as I can. We also posted a Troubleshooters’ Guide a few years ago which may be of some use. The game site works pretty simply so the solution probably lies therein. We have the capability to “unsubmit” teams but consider that a late, if not last, resort. This is a very busy time of year. But rest assured, we want to help everyone play if possible.
And by everyone, I mean once. The one-per-customer is the key to the game’s integrity. We ask that you all respect the letter and the spirit of this rule. We have some policing capability, and may be emailing you if there’s a possible issue, but that’s pretty rare. On the spirit side, I get that families play — my kids have had teams of their own. Just as I don’t do their homework, I don’t fill out their rosters. In that spirit, we are happy to have your whole family play!
And most of all, take advantage of the features that make it extra fun! Once you have submitted, you can create your own small group where your team page will track a list of other submitted teams you want to pit yourself again. I know at the FSA offices up in Mukilteo, they use this feature to track how all the people in the company playing the game are doing. As you can imagine, that makes for some very fun chatter. Be it family, company, friends or whatever, make your group! It can even be people who don’t know you or agree to it — only you can see your group. But ideally it’s something where you and others are all grouping together and each making that group. You can play around with this feature all season long.
Also, there are Draft Teams. For more than a decade the Editors have been running an Editors’ League, although at this point I don’t have the strength to talk about it anymore. But there are lots of others doing a draft league and I know they’re having a blast. Basically, a draft league tosses out the rider point-costs and team budgets, and lets you select riders for your team, like various sports drafts, whereby that rider is only on your team and unavailable to your competition. The Game Site does NOT have this capability per se. You can use our rider list and our points scoring system in your game, but you have to figure out a way to actually set up the teams — Google Spreadsheets has some functionality there. Others of you may have ideas. And if you are anxious to do this but are stuck on how, contact us and we can help. But here too you aren’t under any deadline pressure unless you establish one.
Whew... that’s all I have. Let’s get started!