As every cyclist knows, when you’re with other cyclists, you have to try and prove you’re better then them in various ways. The first and most obvious of these is to try and beat them, but this is tricky – it requires effort and training, and as Euro conscious cyclists know, there is nothing worse then losing whilst simultaneously losing your style. So you resort to the second way of beating them, which is with your intellect and knowledge. Someone says that Rider X’s performance in a recent race was rather good? Nod knowingly, then twist your face and wonder aloud if it was as good as obscure rider Y’s ride in a race that no longer exists in a race that hasn’t been run since you were born. If done correctly, everyone will not think you;re simply an egotistical knob head, but gasp in awe at your deep and insightful commentary. That’s what you hope for anyway – the truth is that we’re all egotistical knobheads who just want to look like we know what we’re talking about.
Of course, knowledge in a chat can’t really be scored, so this is where Velogames, the website dedicated to allowing people to choose a fantasy cycling team within a set budget to compete within a race, comes in. Now, you can both show off the fact that you know more then just the ‘big names’ of the race, and are in fact incredibly deep and know which little known riders are going to come bursting through to deliver the goods. The riders you choose are scored as well, so finally, you have the opportunity to conclusively prove you are both a better psychic and knowledge bed then your cycling contemporaries.
Unfortunately, as I found out with my Velogames Tour de France squad, things can go quite badly wrong. In the accompanying piece to this one, How to Lose at Velogames (https://sicycle.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/how-to-lose-at-velogames/), i discussed how an incredible six out of nine of my team managed to abandon the race, with none of them finishing on the podium, and only collected any points at all because I had, like everyone, picked Peter Sagan. My Sprinter (please keep the laughter to a minimum) was Marcel Kittel, who judging by his tweets, developed explosive diarrhea early on and thus couldn’t sprint – he pulled in one measly point. My Time Trial Trio of Cancellara, Martin and Chavanel all pulled out, after failing to take the top three places in the prologue (which ironically was my best stage), Matt Lloyd never even got a KOM point, and Evans and Sanchez bombed somewhat. My pride was somewhat shattered, and I had to limp to club runs to take a battering for picking Manuel Quinziato, who never got in a break, let alone took a stage like he was supposed to.
But salvation was on the horizon – The Vuelta. This was an intrinsically easier race to predict, as the finishes either went very steeply uphill or were flat, which meant that concentrating on the climbers was the way forward. Thus, Contador, Rodriguez and Froome were the first on the team sheet, followed by a GC bet in Igor Anton – after his 2011 disaster, he would be back to his 2010 winning-till-he-crashed-out form, no? Add in Andrew Talansky as Garmin’s standard top 10 finisher, and I just needed a couple of sprinters. I narrowed it down to three – Ben Swift, John Deglenkob and Nacer Bouhanni. In the end, I chose Swift, figuring Sky would finally sort out their lead outs and provide better opportunities then Argos would, and chose Bouhanni, partially because he cost less the Degelnkob, and also because he looked better on the team list, and as I’ve said, this is all about look hip and deep anyway. To complete the team, I went for Phillip Gilbert’s Dutch clone, Niki Terpstra, and Niki Sorensen, who I thought might try going for stage wins and KOM points. We were ready.
I was very glad when the third stage pushed Rodriguez, Froome and Contador to the podium, although Valverde has eluded my attention – I didn’t think he would last three weeks! You know the story of the race, so you know that I got 5 of the top 10 correct thanks to Anton and Talansky getting in on the action, but erred with Swift – Sky’s lead outs, from 10km to about 1km, where they suddenly vanished just where they were required, were annoying to watch when it meant Deglenkob could just kick past Swift once more. Bouhanni delivered though, and although he was the only rider to retire this time around, he still amassed a sprightly 362 points.
So I won the league in my club by a comfortable margin, and my ego is restored. Why does trying to look cleverer-er then you are always have to be so stressful?!