How to Lose at Velogames

Like most people who follow sports, cycling fans all perceive themselves to know more about their sport then other fans. Cycling is pretty much all about a continual game of one-up manship anyway, and so any method of demonstrating how your banks of cycling knowledge are superior is gladly welcomed. Such a way is the website Velogames, which, in following from many sports ‘fantasy manager’ games, allows you to create a team of riders for an upcoming race from a fixed budget, with the objective obviously for them to score the most points.

Unfortunately, this format can be somewhat annoying, in that it’ll make you look like an utter cretin who knows nothing about cycling. Take for instance my effort for the recent Tour de France. In hindsight, why I ever picked half the team, I don’t know, but then hindsight is a wonderful thing. Lets see how bad I did.

My first pick was, as with most people, Peter Sagan. Having had the pleasure of watching him win live in California, as well as win stages in every race, he seemed nailed on to take a couple of hilly stages and the green jersey. Thankfully, he delivered, with three stage wins to boot, and bagged my team a lovely 1,573 points – the third highest avaliable.

Cadel Evans, the defending champion, was next on the list. He had been coming into form at the Dauphine, and with Wiggins seemingly so much better, I figured Evans must have a greater room for improvement. Besides, he would surely make the podium, wouldn’t he. Starting my team’s inevitable slide, Evans could only manage 7th, and was overtaken by his own team mate. He didn’t challenge for stages or time trials as expected, but still managed 1,098 point for the team.

I’d picked Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin and Sylvain Chavanel because of the large amount of time trialling in the Tour, and because I envisioned the three of them making the prologue podium and hence catapulting me up the rankings. As it worked out, none of them even made it to the final time trial, and whilst Cancellara won the prologue and held the yellow jersey for a week (another reason for picking prologue specialists), he then left the race after the 1st time trial, as did the calamity prone Martin, who after puncturing in the prologue, crashed and broke his hand, meaning he couldn’t compete in the 1st time trial. Chavanel then went home ill, having failed to really challenge for a stage or take a first week yellow jersey an anticipated. So the three of them garnered just 704, 30 and 359 point all together. Not exactly a brilliant return for their standard.

So three men were at home, but surely my sprint team would be ok? Er, no. Of course, I’d picked Marcel Kittel, on the basis that not only was he very fast, but also that his was essentially the only team fully behind a sprinter. This of course jinxed him, making his fabulously ill and abandoning in the first week. He scored my team one solitary point.

The lumpy, hilly stages of this years tour looked made for hilly men like Samuel Sanchez and Matthew Lloyd, Lloyd being my wildcard entry to breakaway and possibly take the KOM. In hindsight, heavens knows why. He didn’t finish either, scoring three points. Worst of all, I had essentially flipped a coin over Sanchez and Nibali as for my choice, and had sided with Sanchez as I saw him being better suited to the route, and against Nibali as I couldn’t see him getting that last 5% to compete with the top men of the tour. Of course, he found that 5% and finished third, whilst Sanchez crashed out and abandoned for the return of just 60 points. Notice a theme here?

Of course, I also had Manuel Quinziato, mainly because I’d run out of budget and he was all i could afford to fit in the team, and hoped he would maybe get in a break and take a stage. But no, I forgot BMC don’t do breakaways. So he scored 48 points. At least he finishes.

And so it came to pass that I managed a rubbish 3,876 points, ranking 13,730th out of what I can only assume wasn’t many more players. 6 of my 9 riders had abandoned the race. It was pretty embarrassing.

So the Vuelta team I’ve come up with should reverse this trend. With a ridiculously mountain heavy course, and plenty of summit finishes, my team is essentially the uphill finish crew supported by breakaway men and consistent sprinters. With Contador, Froome, Rodriguez and Anton in the team, the top 4 should be wrapped up, as should all the mountain stages, whilst Talanksy can hang on for  a good placing and the white jersey. Nacer Bouhanni and Ben Swift are my sprinters in a fastman-light Vuelta. Add in Niki and Nicki in Terpstra and Sorensen and the team should have breakaways covered as well. Surely it can’t go as badly wrong this time?

No doubt Froome and Contador will crash out in the TTT. After all, that’s why I didn’t have Wiggins in my Tour team – I figured he’d fall off in Liege. The bastard.

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