What does a pro-cycling team need to do to kick off the new season in style? Apart from ensuring that they actually have a license that is, and preparing scripted soundbites for their riders to use when asked about a certain disgraced Texan...
They need to host a star studded evening of course in which they unveil their riders for the upcoming season, riders that we’ve known will be riding for them since at least October. My fantasy team is no different so read on to find out which riders I’ll be putting my faith in for 2013.
The rules are simple, I have a budget of 350 credits and Dave has kindly provided a list of theoretical rider values to use. We’re using UCI rules for numbers of riders so you can recruit between 25 and 28 riders or, if you pick some neo-pros, a maximum of 30. The exact rules can be found here on the very helpful inrng.com. Other than that there are no restrictions at all, you can pick as many sprinters, climbers or all-rounders as you like and you can spend your credits however you see fit. You can pick as many riders from one team as you like too.
Some additional reading which may help you choose how to apply your budget can be found in these two posts which go into more detail on how world tour points are awarded through the season. As we’re judging our overall success on world tour points these are particularly helpful.
So, let’s kick things off and announce the team, first up is the one and only:
Sir Bradley Wiggins - GC, Team Sky, 40
Every team needs a leader and mine is none other than Sir Bradley of Wiggins. This isn’t just based on nostalgia for 2012 though, no, this is based purely on his merits and specifically, the fact that he’s as good as confirmed he’ll be riding two grand tours this year. That in itself was a good enough reason for me to pick him over the other leaders I’d considered. While Alberto Contador and Chris Froome may be the designated team leaders for this years Tour de France Wiggins should be riding the Giro as out and out leader and may go into the Tour as joint leader and defending champion. Even if he doesn’t win either (although with a weaker Giro lineup he has every chance of at least one podium) the joint points from two races should be enough to make him a worthwhile choice.
Fabian Cancellara - AR, RadioShack-Nissan, 27
Tom Boonen - PC, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, 19
Philippe Gilbert - AR, BMC Racing Team, 22
Jon Tiernan-Locke - DS, Team Sky, 14
Jelle Vanendert - DS, Lotto-Belisol, 12
Sep Vanmarcke - DS, Blanco Pro Cycling, 10
Lars Petter Nordhaug - DS, Blanco Pro Cycling, 7.1
Thanks to the high value of UCI points available from the one day classics I’ve picked a strong classics lineup, possibly to the detriment of my stage race riders. After an injury interrupted 2012 my money is on Fabian Cancellara to bounce back and look to put right the mistakes of the past including his defeat at the 2012 Milan San-Remo. As well as Cancellara I’ve recruited the unstoppable Tom Boonen and current World Champion Philippe Gilbert meaning I have potentially the strongest three classics riders in the current peloton. To further strengthen my team Jon Tiernan-Locke, Sep Vanmarcke and Lars Petter Nordhaug will hopefully place well through the classics season and may feature in a few stage races too. JTL and Nordhaug in particular show great potential with Sky lacking a stand out classics back up to Boasson Hagen whilst Nordhaug is now out of his countryman’s shadow after moving to Rabobank/Blanco after his win in Canada at the end of 2012.
Mark Cavendish - PC, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, 24
Nacer Bouhanni - PC, FDJ-BigMat, 18
Arnaud Demare - DS, FDJ-BigMat, 10
Marcel Kittel - DS, Argos - Shimano, 9.5
My sprint lineup is a little light compared to my classics riders but I’m expecting Mark Cavendish, much like Wiggins, to feature in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. To support Cavendish I’ve also picked both of FDJ’s exciting young sprinters (again hoping to cover more than one grand tour) and Marcel Kittel of Argos - Shimano. I’ve intentionally avoided Peter Sagan as I fear he may suffer the ‘Cav effect’ and be marked out of many sprints reducing his impact when compared to last year. Also, with Boonen and Gilbert I feel I’ve got the lumpy sprint stages covered without needing another rider like Sagan or Sky’s Edvald Boassan Hagan.
Nicolas Roche - KM, Saxo - Tinkoff, 19
Samuel Sanchez - DS, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 12
Luke Durbridge - AR, Orica GreenEDGE, 18
Wilco Kelderman - AR, Blanco Pro Cycling, 17
Nairo Quintana - AR, Movistar, 16
Lieuwe Westra - AR, Vacansoleil-DCM, 16
Winner Andrew Anacona - DS, Lampre - Merida, 8.4
A large part of my team is aimed at placing consistently in grand tours and smaller stage races. Nicholas Roche, after moving to Saxo Bank, looks like he may be given the nod to take the lead in some smaller races alongside Chris Anker Sorensen. Sammy Sanchez didn’t have the best 2012 thanks to injury but he’s still carrying the hopes of the Euskaltel team and should get the nod in at least one grand tour, plus, at 12 credit’s he’s a real bargain. Luke Durbridge, Wilco Kelderman, Nairo Quintana and Lieuwe Westra all had breakout 2012s showing well in stage races and grand tours alike. I’m hoping each continues to impress and at least one progresses on to really compete for a grand tour title (my money is on Westra to come closest). Finally I’m hoping that if Michele Scarponi is banned Winner Andrew Anacona is one of the riders who steps up to fill the void.
Of the others I considered the closest to being in my team were Thomas de Gendt, possibly my favourite rider, and Moreno Moser. De Gendt was too expensive for me as I expect him to concentrate on the Tour de France thus making other riders better value. Moser though will be stepping up in 2013 to fill the void left by Vincenzo Nibali and I expect him to have a great season, it was a close call between him and Kelderman but I picked Kelderman in the end as he may feature in more races.
Carlos Alberto Betancurt - DS, Ag2r-La Mondiale, 3
Warren Barguil - DS, Argos - Shimano, 3
Alexey Lutsenko - DS, Astana, 3
Danny Van Poppel - DS, Vacansoleil-DCM, 3
Michael Hepburn - DS, Orica GreenEDGE, 3
Michel Kreder - DS, Garmin-Sharp, 3
Mattia Cattaneo - DS, Lampre - Merida, 3
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg - DS, Argos - Shimano, 3
My selection of domestiques and neo-pros (young riders who have been professional for under two years) tends towards the young and inexperienced. The only domestique with real credentials is Betancurt who is a strong climber and could score well as a GC guy or breakaway specialist if conditions are right. Of the others Michael Hepburn has been hyped as another strong Australian rider and Alexey Barguil is a strong sprinter. Finally Warren Barguil is a rarity in that he is an exciting young French climber who isn’t signed to a French team. This may be a blessing or a curse but either way I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll feature in the Tour de France and get into some breaks.
Andy Schleck - DS, RadioShack-Nissan, 3
Stijn Devolder - DS, RadioShack-Nissan, 3
Andy Schleck and Stijn Devolder are my punts for 2013. Both had poor 2012’s and both are surprisingly cheap. Andy Schleck’s trevails in 2012 were well documented and through injury and poor form he scored a mighty 10 fantasy points through the whole year. I’m hoping he comes back strong this year and rides into some form ahead of the Tour de France. Devolder has had a poor few years after featuring strongly in the classics in 2008 and 2009. I’m hoping the move to RadioShack benefits him and he can find some of his lost form.
So, that’s my team, it’s fairly balanced and I’m hoping that I can put out strong teams for most races. What’s missing? Ah yes, a name, for 2013 my charges will be riding under the moniker of *drum roll*
Team ‘advertise here’
Fancy taking on the mighty ‘advertise here’? You can! The full list of rider values is here, pick a team of riders (between 25 and, at most, 30 if you pick some neo-pro’s) for under 350 credits and post it in the comments. You’ll need to score this yourself as this is an ‘unofficial’ competition but hey, it’s fun right?! Also, there’s no prizes...