The first flurry of the 2013 season is over and now seems as good a time as any to take stock.
Team 'advertise here's tally so far
World tour points: 46
Current WT standing 6th (full table is here)
With only one World Tour race completed its hard to gauge overall performance but trends are already appearing. The sprinters are rolling in fantasy points with Mark Cavendish and Nicer Bouhanni my top scorers on 235 and 184 points respectively. Phillippe Gilbert comes in a distant 3rd with 88. Contrast that against my World Tour points haul though and its a different story, Wilco Kelderman's excellent 6th at the Tour Down Under bags him 40 points and over 90% of my current total, his solid perfomance though was only worth a measly 68 fantasy points making it clear that fantasy success doesn't necessarily lead to World Tour points.
This state of affairs is down to two main factors, the first is the way the World Tour calendar works. Of the five fantasy races so far only the Tour Down Under has been part of the World Tour, this means that despite dominating the Tour of Qatar Mark Cavendish is yet to score his first point of the season. Likewise riders such as Chris Froome and Peter Sagan's showings in Oman, while impressive, were literally pointless when it comes to the World Tour.
The second factor is the way that WT points are awarded, while Kelderman's 6th was worth 40 points Andre Griepel earned just 18 despite winning a hatful of stages. Points awarded are biased towards overall General Classifications at the end of a tour meaning that unless a race is pan flat climbers and time trial specialists are always likely to earn more points over a season. Its also doesn't matter how high you are in the GC mid-race if you can't sustain it to the finish.
No doubt this will affect team selection once we reach the next round of WT races in March starting with Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. Like any team I need to balance short term goals (winning races and gaining positive coverage for sponsors) which in this case correlates fairly well with gaining fantasy points, with the long term goals of earning WT points and a license for next year. That means balancing sprinters and stage winners with steady GC riders like Nicholas Roche who, while not exciting, is consistent and reliable. Paris-Nice/Tirreno-Adriatico also poses the first real challenge to the depth of my squad as both WT races are run side by side.
Finally, hindsight is already kicking in and I'm regretting some of my picks, and non-picks, for 2013. Chief among these are Andy Schleck, Tom Jelte Slagter, Sergio Henao, the Izagirre brothers and Joaquin Rodriguez.
Andy Schleck is an obvious regret, despite costing 3 credits 2013 already looks to be another poor season for the former Tour winner with him seemingly unable to finish a race. His head is clearly all-over the place and it'll take a real effort (which I'm not sure he really wants to put in) to turn things around.
Slagter was a rider I liked last year but I wasn't sure he could break through in 2013 on a team seemingly full of potential. 111 WT points has already shut me up.
Much like Slagter I suspected Henao may get overshadowed and drop down the pecking order at Sky but he's had a great Volta ao Algarve and if he keeps form there's every chance he'll get a run out in the classics before being back on domestique duties, he and Uran may also be the preferred riders for the Vuelta in September and if last years Giro is anything to go by he could really compete.
Like most I discounted Jon and Gorka Izagirre as one trick ponies, like most of Euskatel great for the odd breakaway but not for much else. The Tour Down Under though has proven that Jon in particular could be a great GC potential and I expect Euskatel to lighten Sammy Sanchez' load by giving Izagirre a shot at one of this years Grand Tours.
I'm not really regretting not picking Rodriguez as I made a conscious decision to avoid Katusha riders but in the wake of the CAS decision its hard to argue against him being a great addition to any squad, especially now that the UCI have full reinstated Katusha and expanded the World Tour to 19 teams for the rest of 2013.
So, how are your teams faring and who else do you see as having a potentially great year?