So the cycling season returns, and we love to get engaged in fantasy games, especially trying something new. The new concept this year is that of trying to emulate the challenge of Director Sportifs picking a squad for a whole season, balancing the aspect of budgets with collating the best assortment of riders to combat the variety of races throughout a season. As well as just the racing the team needs to accumulate enough UCI points to guarantee its spot on the World Tour. So having been challenged by Drheaton, I’m taking up the mantle of competing with his 29 man squad to try and beat his team, and secure a World Tour berth come the end of the year.
So as we do not have money ourselves, we picked our teams on a stringent budget of just 350 credits, requiring us to be decisive in picking the stars that can bring home a Grand Tour victory and even a classic, as well as allowing us to sign the riders we believe will be the up and coming stars throughout the year.
Below is the squad I assembled, with a balance between looking for stage wins, competing in the classics and having the leaders required to win the Tour. My main protagonists are a double pronged attack of Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador. I believe Sagan has what it takes to win many stages throughout the year, both in GT’s as well as picking up a classic along the way. Contador is the man I believe can bring home the Tour in July, as well as put up a strong showing at another Grand Tour, likely to be the Giro.
Sagan and Contador, the duo that should take the Tour by storm
I couldn’t have a team without the iconic Thomas Voeckler, who will again light up the tour and along the way should contend with another rider in my squad, Philippe Gilbert, for the Ardennes classics. Samuel Sanchez will also lead the attack at the Giro, while Szmyd will play a valuable role at Movistar as either a GT leader or as a domestic to Valverde. The classics should also see Gerrans, Iglinsky, Nordhaug and Ulissi come to the fore. The GT sprint stages will also play a valuable role in pulling in points, through riders in my squad such as Kittel and Demare, but riders that can sprint as well as compete in other events such as some of the classics are even more valuable, which is why riders such as Degenkolb, Greipel, Gatto and Nizzolo, one of the up and coming Italians, are in my squad.
Nizzolo, the talented Italian sprinter that can still be in the mix over undulating terrain
Finally it’s not all just about the current stars, but the stars from future, which is why no less than 7 neo-pros can be found in my squad, with the stand out men that could cause a whirlwind in the peleton being Joesph Dombrowski, the young American now on Sky’s roster, and the incredibly talented Italian Fabio Aru who is on Astana’s roster.
Dombrowski is a rider who has already shown he could have the credentials to compete in stage races
Other riders on my roster that could achieve some big results include the re-emergence of Pellizotti, who should ride the Giro and contend in the classics, while im sure Jonny Hoogerland will again be targeting a mountains jersey at one of the GT’s after a poor season. Also with a fresh start at Garmin, can Nuyens rediscover the form we know he poses and claim another victory in a classic? The biggest unanswered question is what will Andy Schleck produce? At just 3 credits he could be a valuable rider.
Peter Sagan AR, 35.4, Cannondale
Alberto Contador GC, 35.2, Saxo-Tinkoff
Thomas Voeckler GC, 33.7, Team Europcar
Andre Greipel PC, 23.9, Lotto-Belisol
Philippe Gilbert AR, 22, BMC Racing
John Degenkolb PC, 18.2, Argos-Shimano
Joseph Dombrowski KM, 17.8, Sky
Simon Gerrans AR, 15.9, Orica GreenEDGE
Samuel Sanchez DS, 12.4, Euskaltel-Euskadi
Giacomo Nizzolo DS, 12.4, RadioShack Leopard
Fabio Aru DS, 11.1, Astana
Arnaud Demare DS, 10.2, FDJ
Maxim Iglinsky DS, 9.6, Astana
Marcel Kittel DS, 9.5, Argos-Shimano
Diego Ulissi DS, 8.9, Lampre-Merida
Sylvester Szmyd DS, 8.7, Movistar
Oscar Gatto DS, 8, Vini Fantini
Lars Petter Nordhaug DS, 7.1, Blanco Pro Cycling
Wesley Kreder DS, 6.7, Vaconsoleil-DCM
Andrew Fenn DS, 6.4, Omega PharmaQuickstep
Nick Nuyens DS, 6.4, Garmin-Sharp
Franco Pellizotti DS, 5.1, Androni Giocattoli
Johnny Hoogerland DS, 4.5, Vaconsoleil-DCM
Carlos Alberto Betancurt DS, 3, Ag2r-La Mondiale
Andy Schleck DS, 3, RadioShack Leopard
Marc Goos DS, 3, Blanco Pro Cycling
Ian Boswell DS, 3, Sky
Bob Jungels DS, 3, RadioShack Leopard
Sam Bewley DS, 3, Orica GreenEDGE
So as the season goes on, not only will we keep you informed on how our teams are progressing, but also we will give you the low down on the riders causing a stir in the peleton.