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FSA DS: Meet the Winners!

Fotoreporter Sirotti

We've known the names of our FSA Directeur Sportif winners for 2012 for a couple weeks, but let's give them a round of applause... and here a little about who they are and how they pulled it off.

Men's winner: BVL

Brecht. I'm a software developer living in Belgium, working on 3D rendering and animation. As a kid I followed pro cycling, rooting for guys like Museeuw, Vandenbroucke and Pantani. After around 2001 I didn't follow things so closely anymore besides maybe De Ronde, but started watching more races again 2-3 years ago. As for my strategy for picking an FSA DS team, I started by going over the list of riders in a first quick pass, which left me with a list of about 200 riders. Then I started looking at 2011 scores and estimating how much room for improvement there was for each rider, or if scores were unlikely to be repeated. This narrowed the list down to about 50, and tried many different combinations of these. At the last minute I decided to go with many time trial specialists and sprinters. My thinking was that this would reduce the risk of riders underperforming, especially the more expensive ones. Climbers or classics riders who aren't also sprinters tend to be more all or nothing in races. In the end none of the riders in my team gravely underperformed, and I got lucky with many riders overperforming. This was my first time playing FSA DS or any competition like it, and most of my knowledge is based on watching the 2011 season. I don't know if there's a lesson in that, if it's best to not look back too far in history, if time trial specialists and sprinters are in fact underpriced, or if it was mostly just luck, but there you have it.

Men's second: Todd

I had a lot of fun with it this year. My wife even started asking me how my team was doing, and she has no interest in cycling beyond enjoying riding her bike.

About me: Middle-aged, overweight unaccomplished, cyclist in Penticton, BC, Canada. I prefer climbing to descending (I'm a chicken). Professionally I am a college professor teaching geography, geology and environmental science and do a bit of hydrology research as well. I ride a Cannondale Synapse, but not nearly as much as I would like. I have 6 year old twin boys who love to ride as well, and recently started riding "gear bikes", so watch out next summer.

My approach to picking my team is pretty haphazard compared to some of the analysis that gets discussed on the site. First off I always take Ryder (I'm a homer), though I never expected he would win the Giro, top 5 was my hope. This year Boonen seemed so cheap that he was worth the risk. I like how Purito races, and read that he was skipping the tour for the Giro & Vuelta, so figured that would be worth a few points. Wiggo seemed a good price for a tour that was perfectly suited to his talents. I don't know much about the up and comers from Europe, so I tend to focus on North American riders (Tejay, Talansky), or old guys who are cheap and seem like they might do well in a new situation or coming off injury (e.g., Mick Rogers, CVV). Really, I just got pretty lucky, no great strategy or focus, lots of it is names that I recognize or riders/teams that I like.

Men's Third: Holdenmate

Ahem, hey Holdenmate, check your email! We'll see if he chimes in to our little chat here.

OK, on to the Ladies!

Women's winner -- Straw Dog

I'm British, now living permanently in the U.S., working (occasionally) in NY as a research scientist in molecular biology. I raced a bit in my youth many years ago, and followed the pros ever since. I stumbled across PdC 3 years ago, and stayed when I discovered there were others outside Belgium who understand that Flanders is the greatest bike race in the world.

As for FSA-DS strategy: Well, although I agonized for days and weeks over my men's team, I really didn't have enough depth of knowledge of the women to ponder for too long. With Vos and Evie Stevens both reasonably priced, there was no need for any conflict between heart and head at the core of my team. I then realized that many other riders that I knew and liked were also on SLU and Rabo. So I rationalized that with the perennial fragile finances of women's teams, it did not seem a bad idea to load up on riders from what seemed to be the two best organized teams, with the talent and infrastructure to compete across the whole calendar. Looking for a third strong team, I made the poor choice of Rusvelo, who were all but invisible most of the year. Still, in the end Zabelinskaya and Kupfernagel both scored very well.

The two key picks this year were Stevens and Worrack, on almost every top team. They are both well known riders, so it was possible to score big this year without needing the depth of expertise to find the emerging 1- and 2-point young riders. And when my team probably contains at least half the riders that I know anything about at all, it's an understatement to say that there are other more skillfully picked teams. Just none so lucky.

Women's Second: Michelle

I used to race at the US elite national level back in the 90's and now I'm just a huge fan of women's cycling and I race for the Bend Memorial Clinic cycling team in Bend-Oregon.

I approached the game based on last years results in most of the world cups and just my own personal knowledge of who I thought would be going good in this Olympic year.

Women's Third: Sasha

I live in San Francisco, and I'm an avid masters mountain bike and cyclocross racer. (see, e.g.: here )

Living in Northern California, we're fortunate to have a strong bike scene. I tried to pick as many riders as I could who had ties to our region. Most successfully, that meant Megan Guarnier and Shelley Olds. After that, along with Marianne Vos (who, of course, I selected for her 'cross skills), I mostly picked people whose names I liked.