So we're halway through an exciting Tour de France, and the road.cc Fantasy TDF game has been a big hit. As we write it's The Pedal Os topping the leaderboard with 830 points from 11 completed stages (well, ten plus the prologue) – that's an average of 75 points a stage, not bad at all!
When we looked into our crystal ball of cycling to value all the runners and riders it was obvious we'd get some right... and some very, very wrong. So as the race passes half way let's have a look at who's giving the best return on investment, and who's lagging behind in the value stakes.
The big winners
Top man for the first half has to be Geraint Thomas. Okay the Welshman has fallen out of contention since the roads got properly lumpy but he amassed enough points in the prologue and first six stages that he's still second in the table despite having scored nothing since. Your seven imaginary money units (hereafter called credits for want of anything more pithy) scored you 138 points at an average of just under 20 a stage; he only finished outside the top twenty twice in that time.
If Thomas was a steady scorer, racking up stage, GC and white jersey points, Mario Aerts is the attacking opposite. He's only managed to score at all in three stages but with 44 points on stage 8 and a massive 58 on stage 10 he's well up among the top scoring riders on the back of two combativity awards and a hatful of sprint and King of the Mountains points, plus a fifth place finish yesterday. All for four measly credits. How's that for value?
Sebastien Turgot is only five credits but he's been a consistent placer in the sprint finishes. Okay he's not on the podium but three sixth places and a couple of other top twenties mean he's picked up 66 points in total and is one to look for on the flatter stages. Sylvain Chavanel has also given good value; he's a bit more expensive at 13 credits but still holds the gong for the most points accrued on a single stage – 66 for stage 2 – and he still might have another go. He's like that.
This year's expensive mistakes
Where are you, Dave Zabriskie? Nothing. Not a bean. And we had such high hopes, so high in fact that we valued you at 27 credits. We're expecting a big showing in part two or you'll be down in the domestiques next year. You have been warned. Also languishing on zero with a high price tag are Christophe Kern (23) and George Hincapie (22), although we'll forgive Big George because he puts the hours in, no doubt about that.
Climbing sensation Egoi Martinez has been something other than a sensation this year. There's still time but he looks like he's come to trouser the cheque this year. Your 29 credits have bought you a single solitary point for 20th place on stage 5. Must try harder.
And you must try harder too, Bradley Wiggins. All the Team Sky talk has been about Geraint Thomas so far, and there's not much to say when it comes to Wiggo. He's a bit off the pace, simple as that. Whether Contador and Schleck have raised their game or Brad hasn't come at full strength is one we can all discuss, but it says a lot that he's only just the leading Sky rider, less than a minute up the road from Thomas Lövkvist. 34 credits? Even Jesus Hernandez has scored more. Okay, that's by dint of being last man in a couple of times. But you know what we mean.
You get what you pay for
Andy Schleck. You pays your money, you get a solid performance, and of course it helps that he's young. Schleck is worth 15 points a stage from now until he loses the lead. The TT, then. Or will he attack in the Pyrenees? Whatever, he's a pretty safe bet for points on every single stage from here till Paris. Alberto Contador, too, will be raking in the GC haul barring any disasters, although of course he's a bit long in the tooth to be picking up white jersey points.
Thor Hushovd has also been mister consistency, failing to score in only three stages and likely to feature on any flat days, and whenever there's sprint points to be had near the start and no mountains to scale to get them. He's not cheap, but he'll be there or thereabouts. Mark Cavendish had a bad start and is only fifth highest scoring sprinter in the game, but you'd back him to win at least one more and be fighting for the win for a second successive year on the Champs Elysées.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.