By now you have a clue as to where your FSA Directeur Sportif team is headed. With the Classics done, you either cleaned up, or not, on your Classics strategy and are staring at a long summer. Or you didn’t particularly target them and are ready to turn the page. In the latter case, if you scored a nice base of points anyway, then your season is in great shape. In the former case, you needed a huge home run from the Classics, and by my calculation you probably didn’t get it.
Oh, as for a quick word from our sponsor, FSA and Vision, you know which teams have been shockingly good this spring? Bahrain-Victorious, for one. And they roll some pretty nice wheels in the process.
Here is a quick rider recap of where things stand. I look in on the expected Bigs, plus a few more of the unexpected, actual Bigs, and then take a quick peek at the top teams, which is way too early to get into in depth but a few words will suffice. I try to see not only how the top riders have done but what we can expect from them going forward. If you have a guy sitting on 600 points, you might be happy if he’s got a clear shot at summer success, compared to a rider on the same total who just left Belgium for vacation in Mallorca.
A Few of the Restricted Riders
The top guys are usually the ones who make or break your team, so let’s check in on the biggest names.
Cost: 30 points
Performance: 1831 points
The defending Tour de France winner is the patron of the peloton now, so everything revolves around him, including the FSA DS. He was the most expensive rider at 30 points, and immediately the conversation went to why wasn’t he 40 points? 432 teams enjoyed this conversation very much. And Pogačar has rewarded them with a performance worth 1831 points. This is about 150ish points ahead of last year. In the process, he made it to the last few meters of the Ronde van Vlaanderen with Mathieu van der Poel and showed everyone that he may be a huge scorer — in real life and in the FSA DS — in future spring campaigns.
Verdict: All that said, I’m pumping the brakes here a bit on the idea that Pogs will just dominate the entire FSA DS competition this year. Pogs made a good run, extending himself a bit more than before by tacking the cobbled classics and going for the win at Milano Sanremo, and he did well to pick up high placements wherever he went. But missing Liège-Bastogne-Liège was a blow to his teams. For him to match 2021, he has to deliver another dominant performance at the Tour and at least a decent run at the Vuelta a España, to make up for no Olympic road race. I’m sure he will end up in Paris with a jersey or three, but he might get a bit more resistance early on, taking away some of those daily jersey and stage points he greedily devoured last year. I don’t think you could go wrong picking him, but he hasn’t ended the debate for the overall FSA DS title either.
Wout Van Aert
Cost: 28 points
Performance: 1511 points
A robust 177 teams got in on that Wout action, aaaaannnndd... they got a slight dropoff from last year’s performance through the classics. Van Aert, as you know, came down with Covid right before the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and the cost is a bit hard to calculate, but you have to think it’s in the range of 200 points or so, minimum. Van Aert only missed Flanders, Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold — three races in which he scored 650 points last year — and he added LBL where Van Aert clawed back 275 of those missed points. His total is around 250 less than last year, so there’s a pretty good case that he had exactly the same performance, except for his brief Covid absence.
Verdict: You would have to have a pretty cold heart to be disappointed in Wout. But I have a fair amount of bad news for his owners. Last year his post-classics points included a hard-to-duplicate triptych of Tour stage wins, 550 points in two Olympic events, a Belgian Nats title, and another 390 points at the Belgium-based World Championships. I don’t know if he has a Vuelta in him after the Tour, or if he likes his chances in Wollongong, but that’s an awful lot of points to go before he can even match last year. And his owners aren’t going to win unless he goes even further.
Cost: 28 points
Performance: 632 points
No good news so far for the 62 teams in on Rogla, as he has dropped off from roughly 1000 points at this stage a year ago. Missing are the 270 points he scored in the Ardennes last year, which he skipped this time around due I believe to knee soreness. Until then, he was nearly on pace for another 2021-style campaign.
Verdict: It doesn’t look as good for Roglič as it might actually be. He’s only off by a few hundred points, and if his knee is OK for the Tour de France, he could go well beyond the meager tally he amassed last year in crashing out of the race. Matching his massive haul at the Vuelta will be far harder, but a podium place in the Tour will put him ahead of his 2021 schedule.
Mathieu van der Poel
Cost: 24 points
Performance: 1210 points
Van der Poel’s total is about 300 below his total at this stage last year plus the later Paris-Roubaix. That’s actually a terrific performance given the opportunities he missed in places like Strade Bianche. Are we sure winter training regimes are all that important? Maybe he’s just genetically ready for the racing season.
The problem is, his ability to keep scoring — needing another 1000 points to reach his 2021 level — are not clear. On the plus side, he’s headed to the Giro d’Italia, a race he didn’t ride last year, and given his lack of an off switch, plus the opening stage looks like an opportunity for him to grab an early race lead like he did in France last year. But that would only replace the points he scored at the Tour last year, whereas this year’s edition starting in Copenhagen doesn’t look primed for van der Poel to get into yellow, and his best hope will be to go stage hunting (the Roubaix-area cobbled stage, for example). Some points in the fall are a maybe, if he isn’t too exhausted by the double grand tours and if he decides to try for the Wollongong Worlds — both big ifs, the latter including a finishing climb that might not work for the Dutchman.
Verdict: Van der Poel teams are in good shape. Not great, but for the lucky 13 teams to select him, it wasn’t a bad gamble.
Cost: 24 points
Performance: 768 points
Hm, this is 768 points ahead of his total last year, when he didn’t return from injury until the Giro d’Italia. That’s the good news. That and his LBL win, which kicked his middling season start into something much better. Evenepoel went on to score mostly at the Baloise Tour, Danmark Rundt, Euros, Worlds and fall classics.
Verdict: I have no idea. I think he’s in great shape compared to last season, which at 2,020 points was his best yet. Evenepoel’s ability to gobble up middling world tour one-week stage races is well-established, though he’s bound to have plenty of company this time. He might appreciate the Worlds course, with its local-circuit climb weeding out some of the sprinters? He might have a big performance at the Vuelta, if he can put together a solid three-week effort for the first time. He will need to, because some of the classics points will come off the board while he’s in Spain. I am biased because he’s on my team, but with his early padding and the myriad possibilities in play (good and bad), he’s going to enliven the competition all year.
Egan Bernal (26 points) — Not returned from injury, though the two teams who picked him can take heart in the possibility that he is cleared to race again in about a month.
Sonny Colbrelli (26) — The 225 points he scored might be all his four owners get from him this year, as he has recently been cleared for some leisure riding but his healthy situation is unlikely to be cleared up anytime soon.
Joao Almeida (26) — At 606 points, he’s about 100 ahead of his pace from last year. Fair to say he’s what we thought he was at this point. Kind of meh news for his six owners.
Julian Alaphilippe (24) — 33 teams saw their hopes evaporate in an ugly crash last weekend, although that merely sealed their teams’ already declining fate. Ala sits at 440 points, whereas last year he was closing in on 1000 at this point. Things just went from bad to worse.
The Big-Scoring Bargains
There are several hundred stories in the FSA DS, but we don’t have time for all of them, so let’s focus on the single-digit high-scoring heroes of the early campaign.
Cost: 5 points
Performance: 980 points
Martinez leveled up in 2020, his age 24 season and last with EF, before jumping to INEOS where he helped Egan Bernal win the Giro, but then crashed out of the Vuelta a Burgos. That depressed his value, something that seemed likely to continue as long as Dani’s decorated countryman was primed for another grand tour assault. But with Bernal sidelined, Martinez has been riding for himself, and the results have been glorious. Now he is being considered for leadership at the Tour — a mixed bag, given the competition, but still, his 91 owners will have a shot at big points going forward.
Cost: 4 points
Performance: 910 points
Teuns has been around the block a few times and has not (yet) registered his best-ever season this year — that would still be 2017, when he nudged over 1000 for the old BMC outfit. But he is well on his way to doing so with an outstanding spring performance, capped by his Flèche Wallonne victory. Maybe Colbrelli being out elevated his position, although even there the European Champion together with his Belgian teammate-going-nuclear would have been a tremendous pairing. Anyway, Teuns was at his best this spring.
Going forward, you can expect a couple hundred more points somewhere, at least. He tends to go stage hunting at the Tour and can challenge for a high GC spot at some of the week-long stage races, like last year when he was 8th in Poland.
Cost: 8 points
Performance: 800 points
Bahrain and their awesome wheels are just on fire this spring, when not seeing their leader off to the hospital. Bilbao is quietly amassing points from high GC places: third at the UAE Tour, ninth at Tirreno, fifth in the Basque Country, fourth in the Tour of the Alps, plus a bonus fifth in Strade Bianche. Like Teuns he hasn’t quite topped his best season haul, but is on pace to soon. And like Teuns, he is an OK bet for some more stage or GC points, though don’t be surprised if we are actually talking about him as a threat to make the Giro d’Italia podium.
Cost: 5 points
Performance: 780 points
Same story as the last two except that he’s kind of steadily producing 4-600 every year (565 last year), so his current output is just a few ticks above normal. His annual pattern also tends to include more success in the Ardennes than anywhere else, so his 26 owners should enjoy what they’ve gotten so far. It’s all house money from here.
Cost: 5 points
Performance: 726 points
Moving to Bora has been good for Higuita, who scored big with a win at the Volta a Catalunya, before settling back into his career-long pattern of slight inconsistency — he always seems to be pretty good but that top gear isn’t always there. Not unusual for a guy who has had his share of crashes to deal with and who doesn’t turn 25 until August. There’s a great story at Rouleur about his background, by the way. Anyway, the rest of the season could be just as unpredictable, but 135 teams can stay excited about Higuita further padding his stats as one of Bora’s Tour leaders.
Arnaud De Lie
Cost: 1 point
Performance: 690 points
Somehow 173 teams saw through De Lie’s inexperience — he made his pro debut in late January — and picked him up to finish off some bunch sprint and pay off the minimal investment with ease. He’s done far more than that, and chances are, he will continue along this path. There are lots of places in Belgium to sprint for FSA DS points in summer.
Want a few names of guys who don’t look great but might start to very soon? Here’s a short list:
- Jasper Philipsen
- Michael Woods
- Richard Carapaz
- Ethan Hayter
- Simon Yates
And the Top Teams...
1. KabindaPower - - UNCC p/b Casa de Repouso da Guia, 9707
2. le pinot noir, cépage inconstant et problématique, 8989
3. Fontvieille Larvotto Cycling Academy, 8892
4. I’ve spent hours making this team so it f*****g better d, 8717
5. Effort curseur 99, 8707
All of the top ten teams have Pogačar leading the way, which is to be expected, he has the most points. But from there, #11 Solbes Jr. Team, sits at 8468 with a team headed by van der Poel... plus four of the six surprise scorers discussed above, plus Vingegaard, the ever-popular Juan Ayuso and Magnus Sheffield, and others — including Richard Carapaz lurking at a soon-to-increase 290 points. That’s a good look at what it will take to beat a Pogačar team. A lot of huge hits.
KabindaPower is in the lead with Pogs, Martinez, Higuita, Ayuso, and other reliable scorers like Vlasov, Cosnefroy, Kristoff and a pair of sprinters who have lots of work left to do in Jakobsen and Groenewegen.
Le Pinot is led by Pogs plus Bilbao, Cosnefroy, De Lie and Biniam Girmay. Fontvieille has Pogs along with DaniMart, Vlasov, Barguil and Girmay. I’ve Spent Hours has Teuns, De Lie and Higuita. Effort Curseur rolls with Vlasov, De Lie and Higuita.
The guys in this post are for sure driving the current standings, but there are innumerable questions left to answer. As I said, I don’t think Pogačar has shut the door behind him just yet, but he’s given his owners enough to feel solid. It’ll take some shakeups at the top, and insurgent campaigns from other names on this list and beyond, to make a move toward the top of the standings. But for those teams who have a nice padding and serious summer plans, there are lots of ways forward.