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Let’s Start the 2024 FSA Directeur Sportif Competition!

CYCLING-BEL-FLANDERS-2023-MEN Photo by DIRK WAEM/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Every year it seems like climbing Mount Everest... I’ll never make it this time... January just evaporated and February 1 is almost here, and the damn clock just won’t slow down. This time we will miss our start date, and the time will grow too tight, and it’ll be COMPLETE CHAOS. But like every year, it’s the beginning of February, and yes, it is time to open the game!

Welcome to the 2024 FSA Directeur Sportif Competition!

Our game is the FSA Directeur Sportif, or FSA DS, our year-long game where you set your roster in February and follow your team throughout the 2024 Cycling season. It’s actually two games, one for Men’s professional cycling and another for Women’s — and if you play both, you will be entered into our combined competition/rankings as well. For now some 14 years, we are kicking off the year in February in time for the UAE Tour in our calendar (we used to wait until the Omloop, and on the women’s side we still do... but times change). From then on, rosters are set, and you just need to hope for the best results your riders can manage. It’s all completely free of charge, there are prizes for the winners, and numerous ways in which you can wield your team’s prowess at your friends and family, all the way until October!

Meet Our Sponsors!

But before we get started, let’s say hello again to our sponsor, Full Speed Ahead, a/k/a FSA, makers of world class components for road, mountain and track cycling at the highest levels of international competition. Based in Taiwan, Italy, and Washington State, they have supported the Directeur Sportif for over a decade, and in their spare time they like to, you know, win a few bike races?

78th Tour of Spain 2023 - Stage 10 Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Through their Vision brand, FSA sponsors an impressive lineup of World Tour teams — Visma-Lease-a-Bike, Bahrain Victorious, EF Education-EasyPost (men’s and women’s teams), Soudal Quick Step, Astana Qazaqstan, and Arkéa-B&B Hotels all ride Vision cockpits and/or wheels. Add in Pro-Continental teams like Israel-Premier Tech, Lotto Dstny, UNO-X Mobility, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Burgos-BH to the lineup of teams on Vision, and FSA’s Powerbox cranks. You will see these guys all over the Pro Peloton in 2024.

8th Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2024 - Men’s Elite Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Those are the Vision Metron 45 SL Carbon wheels, and I can tell you... they are strong and fast. Their brag sheet is getting pretty long these days, with numerous wins in all the Grand Tours, Monuments, and World Championships. Same goes for their MTB and track honors, as well as cyclocross and the emerging gravel scene, where their FSA K-Wing bars are the tops in performance and comfort. FSA and Vision have had a lot of good days in the sport. This is probably my favorite.

118th Paris-Roubaix 2021 - Men’s Eilte Photo by Vincent Kalut - Pool/Getty Images

Let’s Get Started!

Before we begin, there are two simple requirements:

  1. You must be a registered user right here at the Podium Cafe and — very important!! — have a public email showing (see below); and
  2. Once that is done, head on over to the FSA Directeur Sportif game site and get started!

If you are a returning user, you can just go to the game site, sign back in, name your team, and start hiring riders! More signup details below, including some important FAQs, but for 95% of you it’s a snap.

2nd Paris-Roubaix 2022 - Women’s Elite Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

What Are the Rules?

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.

  • 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 2024” 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 Sunday, February 18 at 11:59pm, Central European Time (CET). That’s 11pm Sunday the UK. In the US, that’s also known as Sunday 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[dot]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.

ATTENTION NEW USERS!! As noted above, 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 a two-step process but completely free, you can then start at the Game Site.

Having problems getting registered? Two possible issues are:

- You must first confirm your SBNation/Podium Cafe login. Once you have signed up here, check your email for instructions to confirm your signup. Please do this before trying to sign up at the game site! It gets sticky otherwise.

-Your Podium Cafe email must show as a public email! Go to your SB Nation profile page at https://www.sbnation.com/users/YOUR_USERNAME, Choose “Edit > Profile” from the drop-down box under your profile picture, and fill out your “Public Email”. Hit us up in comments or via email if you have any trouble with this.

OK, that’s enough for now. Please go ahead and get started. Feel free to put any questions you have in the comments, where our veteran users can often answer your questions before I can get to them. And most importantly... Good luck!