The 2019 CQ Ranking Manager Thread

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This is my third year participating in this game.
For the past 2 seasons my uninspired strategy was getting lots of consistent guys who had a relatively good chance of doubling their previous CQ score. I believe that’s a great strategy for an average-to-good team (I finished between the 20th and the 40th position in both years) but gives you zero chances of winning the whole thing.

This year I changed my strategy a bit, especially for my top picks. I went for riders who can win and win big. Most of them could score less than last year (which was a nightmare for me when picking riders in the past) but they can also trash their previous scores if all stars align.

So here’s my team.

BERNAL GOMEZ Egan Arley (1130 points) - 26 picks
A once in a lifetime talent, the kind of talent who could win a Giro as a rookie. Had 1000+ points in his first WT season while often riding for others. I know it sounds crazy but I believe there’s room to score well over 2000 points. This guy has everything and more: team, recovery, climbing, time trialling, smarts.

NIBALI Vincenzo (693) - 87
Probably my most conservative pick. I don’t think he’s past it, every single word I’ve heard from him since the season ended screamed confidence. This Bahrein budget issue is no good news, but it could mean he’s fighting for a contract.

VAN AERT Wout (597) - 16
We’ve only scratched the surface of his potential last year. He’ll ride for a WT team in 2019 which means better preparation, better support, better attention to details (and Jumbo was a goldmine last year). A risky pick at that price, although his skillset is wide enough to score throughout the whole year.

VAN DER POEL Mathieu (539) - 19
I’m quoting skidmark here: his efficiency last year was crazy. I don’t know if this will translate to being as consistent on a tighter schedule but I don’t wanna miss the boat in case it does. He’s fast enough to beat competent sprinters at any level and he’ll be fighting for a lot more points this year. Exceptional talent with a chance to top 1500 points.

ZAKARIN Ilnur (473) - 69
Not much explanation needed here. Unless you think Katusha will be as bad as last year. Spoiler: I don’t.

ARU Fabio (400) - 95
This is actually the pick I like the least in my team. With Saronni stepping down UAE might be a lil better but it still looks like a mess. I’m taking a flier on Aru anyway, he can score 1000+ if he goes back to the basics.

LAMBRECHT Bjorg (337) - 22
One thing I like about this guy: he’s eager, even impatient at times. Setting is perfect at Lotto, with countless chances to ride for himself, especially in one week long races. Was the first guy I selected on my long list back in November, never left.

KITTEL Marcel (296) - 98
I can see Squire’s point on Kittel but I just couldn’t cut him from my team.

MCNULTY Brandon (273) - 7
I knew this would be a rare pick, but whenever I watched this guy race last year he was sensational. Admittedly, this could be the pick that ruins my game but I felt I needed to be bold to have a shot. It was a coin toss between him and Gaudu, and I dropped the frenchman just a couple of hours before sending my team in. Why did I do that? I feel like Gaudu is a great talent (I had him last year) but he will go through some more growing pains and the schedule won’t help him. McNulty on the other hand will ride a similar schedule to last year in a very protected environment and with zero pressure.

CHAVES RUBIO Jhoan Esteban (263) - 89
Health seems fine, which is all I needed to know.

FELLINE Fabio (257) - 63
I didn’t really consider him until I read an interview where he said he felt completely healthy after a while.

O'CONNOR Ben (219) - 36
Seriously what’s not to like about this kid? 23 years older with top20s in TdU and Catalunya, wins a stage in Trentino, goes toe to toe with the best in the business for almost 20 days in the Giro and then crashes out. He’ll be good.

TOUZE Damien (209) - 8
Had to choose between him and Cosnefroy for my Madouas’ 2019 wannabe. I believe Cosnefroy is the better talent but Touze is a tad faster. There are a few mouths to feed at Cofidis but also a ton of .1 races to score points in France. I’m confident.

PLANCKAERT Baptiste (206) - 27
Kind of a no brainer for me. Goes back to the level he belongs to, will ride a ton of one day races and stop wasting time in GTs/one week races.

BAUHAUS Phil (196) - 37
One of my last picks, can’t say I’m happy about it. I guess it’s boom or bust.

THEUNS Edward (191) - 61
Sunweb was clearly not the right fit.

PADUN Mark (191) - 30
Wanted to pick him last year but thought it was early, now I’m fully on the bandwagon. A beast at U23 level, huge engine, competent on all terrains. I don’t know how many opportunities he’ll get to ride for himself but I believe he’s on the verge of breaking through.

GARCIA CORTINA Ivan (153) - 14

I’ll keep picking him until he wins something big, which probably means I’ll pick him forever. Heart over head.

MEINTJES Louis (141) - 79
Bores me to death, but I can’t deny the ceiling.

CAVENDISH Mark (125) - 79
I didn’t have him on my team until the last day. Then I told myself: f*ck it, I want one last ride with the old man.

TORRES AGUDELO Rodolfo Andres (111) - 1
Can’t believe this is my unique pick, which is actually my first unique pick ever. I like the move to Team Illuminate: they race a ton of .1 asian races and don’t have any other leader. I mean Jorge Castiblanco and Martin Laas scored over 100 points last year on that team. Torres will kill it at that level, unless there’s something I don’t know about his health.

VAN ASBROECK Tom (95) - 19
At first I wanted no part of the ICA crowd of 3rd tier sprinters, but Van Asbroeck will mainly ride on home soil. He has scored big in belgian semi-classics before, so why not?

SWIFT Ben (72) - 53, ATAPUMA HURTADO Jhon Darwin (61) - 46, BETTIOL Alberto (50) - 92

You know the drill here.

KUMP Marko (54) - 26
His Adria Mobil seasons don’t lie. He’s tailor made for that level.

BANASZEK Alan (40) - 8
There goes another rider I absolutely wanted last year but couldn’t fit in the budget. Turns out he disappointed big time in 2018 and is now much cheaper. He DNFed an astonishing amount of races last year which is obviously a big concern, but he is strong and fast. A change of scenery might do wonders for him, especially if Caja Rural races a few of those .1 french races.

KÄMNA Lennard (37) - 38
I knew about the motivational issues, but too big of a talent to pass at that price.

SENNI Manuel (34) - 14
I’ve got kind of a fetish for reaching precisely 7500 points and he was the rider I liked the most in that price range anyway. Broke a leg during last year’s Giro and his season was gone at that point, He’s out of contract at the end of the year, which is a bonus considering his last year at BMC.

BOOM Lars (37) - 66
No explanation needed.

RIVERA SERRANO Kevin (20) - 30
A gamble, since he was dreadful last year. Savio loves him though and he’ll get plenty of opportunities.

EVENEPOEL Remco (0) - 86, VAKOC Petr (0) - 73
Not expecting much from either.


I'll post some more thoughts on riders I didn't pick later.
 
Popular riders I overlooked (more than 20 picks): none, which tells me I did a better job than last year, when I completely overlooked game changers like G Thomas.

Popoular riders I was really close to pick: I already talked about Gaudu before. Luke Durbridge was a classic monster in 2017 and looked ready to step up but then didn't, I'm intrigued by him and his early results confirmed I probably should have picked him. I wanted Trentin but figured I could have only 2 among van Aert, van der Poel and him. I picked the two youngsters, according to my strategy. Moschetti is quick as a wink, I'm just never completely sure about neo-pro sprinters. I think Sivakov is a super talent, and I would've probably picked him if Sosa to Sky didn't happen, but there are really too many captains there.

Popoular riders I don't like: I had Gaviria 2 years ago and even in his best year to date it was a nightmare: crashes, unclear schedule, inconsistency. And if he couldn't get it together at Quickstep, what will happen at UAE? Bouhanni is a good sprinter, but Cofidis has a solid roster and won't always ride for him. Can't understand the love for Bakelants, he's moving to a team where he'll be a full time domestique. As I stated earlier I wanted none of the ICA sprinter, so no Barbier, situation too unclear. I 've been on the Intxausti-Konig train in the past 2 editions and it was always late, no thanks. Finally, I like Mareczko but the move to CCC means more WT races and less easy points for him.

Popular riders I'm neutral too: I get the fuss about Halvorsen, still not sold on him but wouldn't surprise me if he tops 500 points. Porte and Landa are sensible picks, I just went a different direction with Bernal. You know what you get with Rowe and Tony Martin (maybe). De Plus is a fine talent, he just doesn't excite me as others do.
 
FROOME Chris
Points 1415 Pop 9
Dauphiné-Tour-Vuelta-Worlds ITT looks like a good 2019 race programme.
Gamewise it will be down to Froome to counter Porte + Landa/Porte + Gaviria combos.
I considered picking Porte and Gaviria in place of Chris but i do trust 100% the man who demolished Dumoulin on Colle delle Finestre last year. I don't think he's declining. Not yet.

NIBALI Vincenzo
Points 693 Pop 87
If he has overcome injury,he can still get 1000+ points.
Forza Vincenzo!

VAN AERT Wout
Points 597 Pop 17
Head and heart pick. Van der Poel looks untouchable in cyclocross,but i believe Wout will have his revenge on the road.

TRENTIN Matteo
Points 581 Pop 31
MS captain for spring classics,Vuelta flat stages and Italy's captain for Worlds RR if Viviani will have to race the Tour to appease QS new sponsor.
After 2 injuries that messed up his spring last year (and Roubaix crash was a big one),the European Champion jersey could give him wings this season.

ZAKARIN Ilnur
Points 473 Pop 69
If he can repeat 2017 then should be OK.
He's been a shade of himself last year and I fear could be a flop though.

BOUHANNI Nacer
Points 441 Pop 51
Very good sprinter in his best form and mindset.
Could score big in Coupe de France races and WT 1 week stage races.

ARU Fabio
Points 400 Pop 96
Huge potential gone to waste imo.
I don't believe him since 2016 Joux Plane,but i had to pick him anyway.

MINALI Riccardo
Points 299 Pop 4
Afaik ICA is building a sprint train around him and creating a calendar of flat races like Tour of Denmark for him.
Giro wildcard would be nice too.
Hope he'll manage to follow his father's steps.

KITTEL Marcel
Points 296 Pop 99
Contract season. Obvious pick.

CATTANEO Mattia
Points 295 Pop 2
2017 Cattaneo could be a good pick.

FELLINE Fabio
Points 257 Pop 63
If he has overcome toxoplasmosis he can pick up points all over the place.
Third place at 2018 Italy's ITT Championships bodes well.

SPILAK Simon
Points 256 Pop 10
Contract year.
Looking forward to a rainy spring in Europe.

COSNEFROY Benoit
Points 229 Pop 15
Amazing talent.
Helper for Naesen in the big classics but I guess he'll get his chances in Coupe de France races such as Tro Bro Leon.

PLANCKAERT Baptiste
Points 206 Pop 27
Back in Belgium,he could repeat his 2016 season.

PELUCCHI Matteo
Points 168 Pop 3
Moving to Androni should give him leadership in Italian flat races.
Hope he'll finally deliver.

NAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas
Points 133 Pop 10
Leader at Delko.
Obvious pick imo.

CAVENDISH Mark
Points 125 picked 80
Cannonball's last chance.
Boring pick.

HARDY Romain
Points 120 Pop 1 (unique pick)
Hope 2017 Hardy will show up in the hardest one day races in Italy and France.

BARBIER Rudy
Points 90 Pop 36
Cheap pick. He should get plenty of chances to lead ICA across Europe (alongside Cimolai).

ATAPUMA HURTADO Jhon Darwin
Points 61 Pop 46
Could be a good pick for French stage races if he'll come back to his former level.

KUMP Marko
Points 54 Pop 27
Back with Adria where he scores well.

BETTIOL Alberto
Points 50 Pop 92
Obvious pick.

LIETAER Eliot
Points 43 Pop 13
Missed most of past season.
Expecting 300 points.

VALLS FERRI Rafael
Points 43 Pop 10
Willunga Hill pick. That's it.

BOOM Lars
Points 37 Pop 67
Obvious pick.

STALLAERT Joeri
Points 34 Pop 9
Guess he'll get his chances in Belgium's one day races once MVDP will end his road season.

SENNI Manuel
Points 34 Pop 14
2017 Senni would be a nice pick. Crashed hard at 2018 Giro,now he's in contract year and must deliver.

JARAMILLO DIEZ Daniel Alexander
Points 21 Pop 5
Manzana Postobon's captain for stage races.

VAN STAEYEN Michael
Points 20 Pop 14
Main sprinter for Roompot Charles.
Obvious pick.

INTXAUSTI ELORRIAGA Beñat
Points 12 Pop 27
Obvious and low risk pick.

GULDHAMMER POULSEN Rasmus
Points 12 Pop 16
Boring pick.

VAKOC Petr
Points 0 picked 74
Really like the guy. I truly hope he'll win big races someday.

EVENEPOEL Remco
Points 0 Pop 89
Obvious and most exciting pick.
 
Re:

ThePirate81 said:
FROOME Chris
Points 1415 Pop 9
Dauphiné-Tour-Vuelta-Worlds ITT looks like a good 2019 race programme.
Gamewise it will be down to Froome to counter Porte + Landa/Porte + Gaviria combos.
I considered picking Porte and Gaviria in place of Chris but i do trust 100% the man who demolished Dumoulin on Colle delle Finestre last year. I don't think he's declining. Not yet.

NIBALI Vincenzo
Points 693 Pop 87
If he has overcome injury,he can still get 1000+ points.
Forza Vincenzo!

VAN AERT Wout
Points 597 Pop 17
Head and heart pick. Van der Poel looks untouchable in cyclocross,but i believe Wout will have his revenge on the road.

TRENTIN Matteo
Points 581 Pop 31
MS captain for spring classics,Vuelta flat stages and Italy's captain for Worlds RR if Viviani will have to race the Tour to appease QS new sponsor.
After 2 injuries that messed up his spring last year (and Roubaix crash was a big one),the European Champion jersey could give him wings this season.

ZAKARIN Ilnur
Points 473 Pop 69
If he can repeat 2017 then should be OK.
He's been a shade of himself last year and I fear could be a flop though.

BOUHANNI Nacer
Points 441 Pop 51
Very good sprinter in his best form and mindset.
Could score big in Coupe de France races and WT 1 week stage races.

ARU Fabio
Points 400 Pop 96
Huge potential gone to waste imo.
I don't believe in him since 2016 Joux Plane,but i had to pick him anyway.

MINALI Riccardo
Points 299 Pop 4
Afaik ICA is building a sprint train around him and creating a calendar of flat races like Tour of Denmark for him.
Giro wildcard would be nice too.
Hope he'll manage to follow his father's steps.

KITTEL Marcel
Points 296 Pop 99
Contract season. Obvious pick.

CATTANEO Mattia
Points 295 Pop 2
2017 Cattaneo could be a good pick.

FELLINE Fabio
Points 257 Pop 63
If he has overcome toxoplasmosis he can pick up points all over the place.
Third place at 2018 Italy's ITT Championships bodes well.

SPILAK Simon
Points 256 Pop 10
Contract year.
Looking forward to a rainy spring in Europe.

COSNEFROY Benoit
Points 229 Pop 15
Amazing talent.
Helper for Naesen in the big classics but I guess he'll get his chances in Coupe de France races such as Tro Bro Leon.

PLANCKAERT Baptiste
Points 206 Pop 27
Back in Belgium,he could repeat his 2016 season.

PELUCCHI Matteo
Points 168 Pop 3
Moving to Androni should give him leadership in Italian flat races.
Hope he'll finally deliver.

NAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas
Points 133 Pop 10
Leader at Delko.
Obvious pick imo.

CAVENDISH Mark
Points 125 picked 80
Cannonball's last chance.
Boring pick.

HARDY Romain
Points 120 Pop 1 (unique pick)
Hope 2017 Hardy will show up in the hardest one day races in Italy and France.

BARBIER Rudy
Points 90 Pop 36
Cheap pick. He should get plenty of chances to lead ICA across Europe (alongside Cimolai).

ATAPUMA HURTADO Jhon Darwin
Points 61 Pop 46
Could be a good pick for French stage races if he'll come back to his former level.

KUMP Marko
Points 54 Pop 27
Back with Adria where he scores well.

BETTIOL Alberto
Points 50 Pop 92
Obvious pick.

LIETAER Eliot
Points 43 Pop 13
Missed most of past season.
Expecting 300 points.

VALLS FERRI Rafael
Points 43 Pop 10
Willunga Hill pick. That's it.

BOOM Lars
Points 37 Pop 67
Obvious pick.

STALLAERT Joeri
Points 34 Pop 9
Guess he'll get his chances in Belgium's one day races once MVDP will end his road season.

SENNI Manuel
Points 34 Pop 14
2017 Senni would be a nice pick. Crashed hard at 2018 Giro,now he's in contract year and must deliver.

JARAMILLO DIEZ Daniel Alexander
Points 21 Pop 5
Manzana Postobon's captain for stage races.

VAN STAEYEN Michael
Points 20 Pop 14
Main sprinter for Roompot Charles.
Obvious pick.

INTXAUSTI ELORRIAGA Beñat
Points 12 Pop 27
Obvious and low risk pick.

GULDHAMMER POULSEN Rasmus
Points 12 Pop 16
Boring pick.

VAKOC Petr
Points 0 picked 74
Really like the guy. I truly hope he'll win big races someday.

EVENEPOEL Remco
Points 0 Pop 89
Obvious and most exciting pick.
Thats a very solid team and if Froome delivers as expected it should do quite well.

Van Staeyen that you put as obvious could be a coup. I was tempted to use a spot on him too given the lack of sprinters with Rompoot, but I somehow concluded that De Bie would propably be the number 1 sprinter on the team, and that they would risk often riding the same races, and kind of forgot about him again. But I see now Van Staeyen talks about riding for himself as a sprinter again now so it does look quite good for that pick. I was also very close to picking Jaramillo that once looked very promissing only to waste years and stagnate in USA but that perhaps could get a new chance now, or at least perhaps get some cheap chinese points like Aguirre this year. Finally your unique pick Hardy is also a interesting pick. Despite his age he still seems like a rider with unforfilled potential being quite talented as U23 and then only showing it in glimpses afterwards. And when the very similar Rudy Molard with a very similar career could suddenly explode last year Hardy could easily do the same.
 
A few interesting team walkthroughs here recently. Fascinating read!

Jakob747 said:
CAICEDO CEPEDA Jonathan Klever - 207 (4 teams) – Caicedo is somewhat a personal favorite, whom I have followed for years and seen racing live several times here in Colombia. He is the reigning Vuelta Colombia winner - Who also won the incredible hard stage-race Clásica Ciudad de Soacha twice in a row, (2016 and 2015)... In Soacha, he went solo on the HC climb San Miguel increased all the way up and held his advantage on Romeral to finish off a fantastic performance. Carapaz was 4th that day finishing well over 2 minutes behind Caicedo. --- Paulo Caicedo who was his trainer between 2013 and 2017 and who also trained Carapaz for 3 years btw, mentioned in an article in El Universo that Caicedo is even stronger than Richard and described him as an outstanding (altitude climber) who also defends himself well against the clock! Now that sounds well and all - and I agree he is a fantastic climber especially at altitude in Colombia, but in Tour of Croatia 2017, Caicedo attacked on the climb up to (SV. Jure) and well he didn't look remotely amazing there, he hardly got a gap and ended the day on an unspectacular 24th place. Its one thing racing at altitude in South America, but on uneven roads and ****** goat-tracks in Europe with much higher speeds leading into the climbs well that's a whole other ball-game. Still worth a punt at that ¨price¨ though.
That's a lot of cool background info! Caicedo will certainly be fun to follow. His team is not the one I'd trust the most to refine his talent, but from what you say he could actually be great if everything comes together.

Jakob747 said:
PADUN Mark - 191 (30 teams)
He's one of the riders I didn't pick that I'm most scared of. He looked massively strong a few times last year. I'll have to trust my gut feeling that his lack of consistency will still hamper him somewhat.

SafeBet said:
This is my third year participating in this game.
For the past 2 seasons my uninspired strategy was getting lots of consistent guys who had a relatively good chance of doubling their previous CQ score. I believe that’s a great strategy for an average-to-good team (I finished between the 20th and the 40th position in both years) but gives you zero chances of winning the whole thing.

This year I changed my strategy a bit, especially for my top picks. I went for riders who can win and win big. Most of them could score less than last year (which was a nightmare for me when picking riders in the past) but they can also trash their previous scores if all stars align.
Was looking forward to reading your thoughts on the game, since you said you did a lot of research this year. Your strategy for this edition is somewhat along the lines of my own strategy. Only I didn't really go for big race winners, but rather riders who can rack up the points in lots of races throughout the season if they're consistent, but who might also turn out quite average. While a player like skidmark on the other hand is back to his tried and tested best with lots of 'safe' picks. It's just that he's better at it than everyone else, so his 'consistent' team might actually win the whole thing.

SafeBet said:
MCNULTY Brandon (273) - 7
I knew this would be a rare pick, but whenever I watched this guy race last year he was sensational. Admittedly, this could be the pick that ruins my game but I felt I needed to be bold to have a shot. It was a coin toss between him and Gaudu, and I dropped the frenchman just a couple of hours before sending my team in. Why did I do that? I feel like Gaudu is a great talent (I had him last year) but he will go through some more growing pains and the schedule won’t help him. McNulty on the other hand will ride a similar schedule to last year in a very protected environment and with zero pressure.
McNulty is someone I also considered very seriously but didn't pick in the end. I don't think he'll ruin the game for you at all, and he could be sensational. I guess what put me off him was that I can't really be sure what races Rally will and won't do, and that he might waste away in some low-scoring U23 races in late summer instead of riding the American 2.HC races.

SafeBet said:
TORRES AGUDELO Rodolfo Andres (111) - 1
Can’t believe this is my unique pick, which is actually my first unique pick ever. I like the move to Team Illuminate: they race a ton of .1 asian races and don’t have any other leader. I mean Jorge Castiblanco and Martin Laas scored over 100 points last year on that team. Torres will kill it at that level, unless there’s something I don’t know about his health.
His health is actually a big question mark. I don't quite remember what was wrong with him, but he didn't expect to be ready at the start of this season, which always makes me worried. Your point about Illuminate's schedule is a great one though. I automatically assumed they were one of the 'normal' American conti teams who mainly stayed in North America, but it seems you're absolutely right. So if he recovers, Torres can actually be a fantastic unique pick.

SafeBet said:
SENNI Manuel (34) - 14
I’ve got kind of a fetish for reaching precisely 7500 points and he was the rider I liked the most in that price range anyway. Broke a leg during last year’s Giro and his season was gone at that point, He’s out of contract at the end of the year, which is a bonus considering his last year at BMC.
Haha, I've kind of suffered a bit from the same 'fetish', but managed to break free from it this year. I don't think Senni is very inspiring. I'd have preferred Stallaert at 34 points. There are also a couple of good ones at 33 if you could've tolerated 7499. ;)

I see you're also one of those who like Padun very much. I'm getting worried...

MADRAZO said:
Thats a very solid team and if Froome delivers as expected it should do quite well.

Van Staeyen that you put as obvious could be a coup.
I agree with you that the Froome team looks strong.

With Van Staeyen, there are enough Belgian and Dutch one-day races that a team like Roompot could satisfy four sprinters. I think they have three sprinters. Van Staeyen is even more attractive now that the third one, Boy Van Poppel, broke his collarbone which puts the Dutchman a bit behind in preparation for the new season.
 
So, Wout van Aert's full season schedule:

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Strade Bianche
Milano-Sanremo
E3 BinckBank Classic
Gent-Wevelgem
Ronde van Vlaanderen
Paris-Roubaix
Amstel Gold Race
Criterium du Dauphiné
Belgian national championships
BinckBank Tour
Cyclassics Hamburg

Would those of you who picked him have done it if you knew this?
 
Re:

Squire said:
So, Wout van Aert's full season schedule:

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Strade Bianche
Milano-Sanremo
E3 BinckBank Classic
Gent-Wevelgem
Ronde van Vlaanderen
Paris-Roubaix
Amstel Gold Race
Criterium du Dauphiné
Belgian national championships
BinckBank Tour
Cyclassics Hamburg

Would those of you who picked him have done it if you knew this?
Interesting. He really needs to be on top of his game. No smaller races to gain easy points but potential for a lot of points if he hits the same level as last year.

The Worlds is a possible addition, I would guess.
 
Re:

Squire said:
So, Wout van Aert's full season schedule:

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Strade Bianche
Milano-Sanremo
E3 BinckBank Classic
Gent-Wevelgem
Ronde van Vlaanderen
Paris-Roubaix
Amstel Gold Race
Criterium du Dauphiné
Belgian national championships
BinckBank Tour
Cyclassics Hamburg

Would those of you who picked him have done it if you knew this?
I was hoping for more tbh
 


I made the GIF above to summarize why I picked Alberto Dainese already this year, despite him only being 20 years of age. Hell of a sprinter, we gonna hear a lot about him in the years to come.

My question is, does SEG ride a CQ points-friendy calender at continental level? Is it more attractive sprinting wise than in 2017 - Where Jakobsen scored 117 points?

SEG also signed Kaden Groves for 2019 (whom I actually rate as well) so maybe they will divide the sprints opportunities between them, to keep both relatively content.

Anyway, not sure about Dainese this year, but potentially it could be valid. That's why I picked him anyway - because of potential!
 
Okay here's part 2 so I can stop talking about my own team and start analyzing others'/participating in the game. Reflections and comments encouraged on any of the riders, as always.

PLANCKAERT Baptiste (27 teams, 206 points) – I think of him like a supercharged Marko Kump. He had a thousand point season at CT level, moved to WT, and in his two years with Katusha, he did fine in .HC and .1 races – the only points he got from WT races of 2017 and 2018 were from some top 10s at the Giro this year – the bulk of his 526 points in the last two years were from the smaller races. Going back to a calendar of mostly that, and being a top producer, should really boost his score. I don’t expect 1000 points again, but 500-700 would be great.

HALVORSEN Kristoffer (35 teams, 162 points) – he had some ups and downs in his first year, and I’m a bit concerned that there weren’t any really memorable highs. But he’s still a really talented sprinter on a team that doesn’t really have many (although, not really a support network for sprinters either). I guess I was swayed by a lot of sprinters this year – they are great because they can score at most races throughout the year, and can accumulate points so it’s less nerve-wracking than picking, say, a cobbles specialist.

BARBIER Rudy (36 teams, 90 points) – I’ve had my eye on him for a few years as I love consistent riders who show up to almost every race. The problem being that usually their points are too high to take them (like Carlos Barbero, for example, who I've never picked but wanted to, or Valverde except last year). So taking Barbier was mostly a no-brainer; the ‘mostly’ being because I’m not quite sure why he had such an off year of only 90 points. There wasn’t an obvious injury and I didn’t see anything mentioned in interviews. Anyway, ICA wants to build a profile in France and have a French sprinter, so it seems like a good fit.

O’CONNOR Ben (37 teams, 219 points) – He has Oomen-like consistency at a bit lower of a level; improve a few of his placings (18th in TDU, 11th in Catalunya, 7th in Alps) and get him to finish a GT instead of crashing out while in the top 15, and you’ve got a worthwhile pick for the game.

BAUHAUS Phil (37 teams, 196 points) – the last rider I added to my team. I’ve had him like twice before and was hesitant to take him again, and the last spot was between him, Padun, and I believe someone more left field like Emils Liepins (who I ended up taking for the youth game). I was toggling between them to see if I could find something that tipped it for me and was leaning towards Padun when I saw the result from Abu Dhabi stage 3 last year. Bauhaus beat, in order: Kittel, Ackermann, Viviani, Ewan, Griepel, Barbier, Kristoff, Van Poppel, Guardini, McLay, Bonifazio, Halvorsen. Aside from being half my CQ team, that’s a lot of damn good sprinters to beat. That sealed it for me, and also remembering his impressive stage at the Dauphine in 2017. If he can do that with consistency (and despite being wary of Bahrain, their only real sprinter is Colbrelli who should do complementary races), his score should go way up.

KAMNA Lennard (39 teams, 37 points) – Frig, I dunno. He seems to be over his motivational issues and still has an engine that helped get a Worlds TTT and 2nd in the U23 RR, which has tricked me into thinking he’s got 1-day potential too. Sunweb’s kind of the wrong team on which to not be top dog, though.

ATAPUMA HURTADO Jhon Darwin - (46 teams, 61 points) – now that he’s out of the CQ sinkhole that is UAE and into the hopefully-former-CQ sinkhole that is Cofidis, sure why not? My spreadsheet notes literally say “If I need someone at this price, for sure”, and then when I needed ten more riders, I definitely did need him (and McLay, and Kamna, Van Asbroeck, Bauhaus, Marini, etc).

BOUHANNI Nacer (51 teams, 441 points) – He had between 1000-1200 for the previous five years, so he was consistently great if a bit erratic/fragile. My hope is he’s over the hump with Vasseur and can do his thing.

SWIFT Ben (54 teams, 72 points) – for obvious reasons, and has a much higher ceiling than the similarly-priced hard-luck Sky Brit Rowe.

THEUNS Edward (61 teams, 191 points) – He was fine with Trek, didn’t seem to work out with Sunweb, and they both seemed to know it. Seems like a healthy split.

FELLINE Fabio (63 teams, 257 points) – Didn’t I pick him the very first year of this game? I’ve always liked this guy, it’s been a shame to see him struggle the last few years. He seems to be past the toxoplasmosis and I’m convinced his ceiling in a solid year is above 1000 points. His insanely consistent Vuelta of a few years ago where he finished top 5 in pretty much every kind of stage is exactly what he's capable of at his best.

ZAKARIN Ilnur (69 teams, 473) – His natural level is quite a bit higher than his point total of 2018, I’m convinced he’ll do better.

Quick hits: NIBALI (87 teams), GAVIRIA (83 teams), ARU (96 teams), KITTEL (99 teams), CHAVES (90 teams), MEINTJES (79 teams), CAVENDISH (80 teams), BETTIOL (92 teams), BOOM (67 teams), EVENEPOEL (89 teams), VAKOC (74 teams)

You may or may not agree that these picks will all do much better than last year, but I think the rationale to pick each of them is self-evident. Chaves is the only one amongst this group I’m really pulling for on a personal level because the guy’s so damn likable (well, and Vakoc, but I don’t know much about him, I just hope he makes it back from such an injury), but I like Nibali fine and have a love/hate with Cav that’s swung back to pulling for him a bit cuz the last few years have been tough. Gaviria won the opening stage of his first TdF, so it’s not like he’s lacking class, and he could definitely win MSR and place in the Worlds aside from the rumored 2 GTs he's doing. So, I dunno, even though UAE is a step down, and even if he crashes sometimes, his potential is sky high. Evenepoel I’m more curious than anything as a rider of his like is unprecedented jumping to that level. Vakoc… I think the odds are that he doesn’t get much more than finishing points. It’s funny to reflect on why I picked him over, say Guldhammer, who cost 12 points and I also had doubts about due to his breaking his back a little over a year ago. I think the two reasons really come down to 1) he had a blog that seems optimistic enough to make me think 'maybe...' (but, if you read between the lines, very cautiously optimistic) and 2) QuickStep can do anything. So, we will see!

Can’t wait to see them all in action, the races are coming so soon!!
 
In reply to Jakob:

EWAN Caleb - 776 (18 teams) – A few years ago Caleb Ewan was one of the most exciting cycling prospects in the world. Now approaching his mid-twenties, his natural progression curve should hopefully rise even further, allowing him to stamp his authority among the best of the best. I really look forward to seeing how Ewan fares within the renovated Lotto sprint set-up for the new season. I sense a good match. He's got solid support in terms of both firepower (controlling the breakaways) and experienced guys who can deliver him to the line.
I very seriously considered Ewan as well; even though he hasn't really scored higher than last year, his CQ potential was definitely stifled by being left out of the GTs, and also the leadout at Lotto is superior. What do you think is his realistic point total this year? His ceiling? I'd say ~1000-1100 is realistic, ~1400 ceiling? If I didn't feel better about other riders, I'd definitely take him (although I guess that sentence could apply to literally anyone haha)

VAN DER POEL Mathieu - 539 (20 teams) – I swear to god Mathieu Van der Poel posses Saganesque potential/talent as a bike rider. A jack of all trades. Limited race days? Sparse opportunities if he fails to deliver on his so-far pretty ambitious 2019 road schedule? I guess so. However, I never really consider leaving him out my CQ squad anyway though - the man is a beast and if nothing else, it should be fun following him all spring in the first serious road campaign of his career.
I compared him to Sagan a few pages ago, so this is music to my ears as a fellow VdP owner. But yeah, I completely resonate with your general sentiment of "well I guess there are reasons to doubt but goddamn he's on the road in the big races and it's gonna be fun"... I'm so methodical in picking my team in this game that it was fun to just get excited about a rider and say to hell with it.

ARU Fabio - 400 (96 teams) – Last year he cost me every chance of success in the Main-Game thanks to his abysmal performances all year! I'm still pissed about that and didn't really want to include him in my squad this season, to be honest. Although chances of him redeeming himself and acting as some sort of "Grand-Tour" contender probably are slim, I didn't quite have the courage to leave him out of my team. I expect a somewhat better Aru in 2019, but that's also about it really. Not too enthusiastic on his behalf!
It's funny how quick the rider cycle of appreciation goes - in Aru's first two years, he was unproven but mega-talented, had ugly style and pulled crazy faces, attacked frequently and just had this youthful energy that was pretty exciting... and then he won a GT in the most amazing fashion, breaking a seemingly inevitable lock on the last day with some daring and tactics. And now three years later he's totally an uninteresting and uninspiring prospect. Hell, even when he took the yellow jersey from Froome that was the most exciting part of that whole Tour. I remember when Andy Schleck killed it in the Giro at 21 or whatever and then attacked like 9 times at the Beijing Olympic RR and I thought he was the future of exciting cycling too. Not much to do with the game, I guess, but it's funny how success makes you want more success, which makes you calculated and boring.


CAICEDO CEPEDA Jonathan Klever - 207 (4 teams) – Caicedo is somewhat a personal favorite, whom I have followed for years and seen racing live several times here in Colombia. He is the reigning Vuelta Colombia winner - Who also won the incredible hard stage-race Clásica Ciudad de Soacha twice in a row, (2016 and 2015)... In Soacha, he went solo on the HC climb San Miguel increased all the way up and held his advantage on Romeral to finish off a fantastic performance. Carapaz was 4th that day finishing well over 2 minutes behind Caicedo. --- Paulo Caicedo who was his trainer between 2013 and 2017 and who also trained Carapaz for 3 years btw, mentioned in an article in El Universo that Caicedo is even stronger than Richard and described him as an outstanding (altitude climber) who also defends himself well against the clock! Now that sounds well and all - and I agree he is a fantastic climber especially at altitude in Colombia, but in Tour of Croatia 2017, Caicedo attacked on the climb up to (SV. Jure) and well he didn't look remotely amazing there, he hardly got a gap and ended the day on an unspectacular 24th place. Its one thing racing at altitude in South America, but on uneven roads and ****** goat-tracks in Europe with much higher speeds leading into the climbs well that's a whole other ball-game. Still worth a punt at that ¨price¨ though.
I knew next to nothing about this rider before reading that paragraph. It's info like that that I really appreciate about this part of the CQ thread.

PADUN Mark - 191 (30 teams) – Padun impressed me highly in the Hammer-Series./Limburg. The day he totally worked over Sivakov and won the event for Bahrain. I also had the classic Valle d'Aosta 2016 in mind. The day he practically followed a guy like Enric Mas all the way up the hideous hideous Piani di Tavagnasco. He crashed the following day on stage 4, only to recover and finish second the next day on Cervinia after a long rage attacked together with Ravasi. Strong as an ox that Padun.
Yeah I had a long look at this guy. Honestly, if I had seen any of his best performances with my eyes (I was travelling or working remotely during all of them last year, so I didn't have time to catch them) I probably would have picked him. But just numbers on a page... well I almost picked him anyways. I'm sure he'll have a good year, but I hope for my sake not too good!
 
skidmark said:
In reply to Jakob:

EWAN Caleb - 776 (18 teams) – A few years ago Caleb Ewan was one of the most exciting cycling prospects in the world. Now approaching his mid-twenties, his natural progression curve should hopefully rise even further, allowing him to stamp his authority among the best of the best. I really look forward to seeing how Ewan fares within the renovated Lotto sprint set-up for the new season. I sense a good match. He's got solid support in terms of both firepower (controlling the breakaways) and experienced guys who can deliver him to the line.
I very seriously considered Ewan as well; even though he hasn't really scored higher than last year, his CQ potential was definitely stifled by being left out of the GTs, and also the leadout at Lotto is superior. What do you think is his realistic point total this year? His ceiling? I'd say ~1000-1100 is realistic, ~1400 ceiling? If I didn't feel better about other riders, I'd definitely take him (although I guess that sentence could apply to literally anyone haha)
I never really visualized Ewans final points count for 2019 per se, but I guess if all pans out he could break the 1000 point marker handily. Conservatively, I'm expecting around 1000 points.

Greipel was a formidable ambassador for Lotto and Ewan has inherited the vast majority of his well-oiled machine, there are some X-quantity riders within Lotto as well - for example, Lawrence Naesen himself a huge powerhouse with speed to match (Naesen another victim of mononucléose which has hampered his trajectory so far). In 2019 we hopefully see him flourish as well.

Byriel Iversen a prolific winner on the Italian amateur scene, is also a tall crafty dude if I'm not mistaking? Someone with lots of watts capable of leading the peloton kilometer after kilometer, so the firepower is there besides the more obvious lead-outs on their roster.

I honestly don't know how to rank guys like Groenewegen, Gaviria, Ewan or Viviani on pure speed, but Ewan is defiantly up there, so if everything around his new surroundings falls into place, I defiantly think he should have a good season, without saying too much.
 
Jakob747 said:
I made the GIF above to summarize why I picked Alberto Dainese already this year, despite him only being 20 years of age. Hell of a sprinter, we gonna hear a lot about him in the years to come.

My question is, does SEG ride a CQ points-friendy calender at continental level? Is it more attractive sprinting wise than in 2017 - Where Jakobsen scored 117 points?
Here is SEG's 2018 race schedule. Plenty of .2 races obviously, but also quite a few .1 races.
I guess it's likely that Dainese will go pro next year and will ride as a stagiaire for a big team this fall.
 
Squire said:
McNulty is someone I also considered very seriously but didn't pick in the end. I don't think he'll ruin the game for you at all, and he could be sensational. I guess what put me off him was that I can't really be sure what races Rally will and won't do, and that he might waste away in some low-scoring U23 races in late summer instead of riding the American 2.HC races.
That's a concern + the fact he's 20 and an off year is always possible at that age.
Say he doesn't perform well early in the season, how does he cope with that? Hard to know.

Squire said:
His health is actually a big question mark. I don't quite remember what was wrong with him, but he didn't expect to be ready at the start of this season, which always makes me worried. Your point about Illuminate's schedule is a great one though. I automatically assumed they were one of the 'normal' American conti teams who mainly stayed in North America, but it seems you're absolutely right. So if he recovers, Torres can actually be a fantastic unique pick.
Ouch, I didn't really worry about his health since Illuminate gave him a contract just a few days ago and assumed he went through some medical tests. What are his problems?

Squire said:
Haha, I've kind of suffered a bit from the same 'fetish', but managed to break free from it this year. I don't think Senni is very inspiring. I'd have preferred Stallaert at 34 points. There are also a couple of good ones at 33 if you could've tolerated 7499. ;)
Yeah, I really wanted Jhojan but 7499 is the epitome of unacceptable for me, so I picked him in another game.
 
Jakob747 said:


I made the GIF above to summarize why I picked Alberto Dainese already this year, despite him only being 20 years of age. Hell of a sprinter, we gonna hear a lot about him in the years to come.

My question is, does SEG ride a CQ points-friendy calender at continental level? Is it more attractive sprinting wise than in 2017 - Where Jakobsen scored 117 points?
Dainese is already a beast, but as you point out his race schedule might be a problem this year.
I had him in my shortlist of 50, but then decided to wait another year.
 
I am a first-year player so I wasn't too sure how many expensive riders I should pick. Anyway, here are some thoughts on my selection:

SCHACHMANN Maximilian (777):
Quite risky at this price but I feel like he has much more in him. He will be one of the captains for one-week stage races and hilly classics at BORA, so he’ll get plenty of opportunities to ride for himself. GTs? Not yet…

NIBALI Vincenzo (693):
There was no choice for me really at this price. He has a chance to win the Giro, at least podium. Add to that a stage in le Tour and some good points in the autumn races. Of course, dreams are still there concerning LBL and sometimes dreams come true, like in Sanremo.

POLITT Nils (462):
2018 he showed that he can be among the best in the big classics in Paris-Roubaix. He also improved on shorter hills and was one of the few riders that were showing up in Katusha’s nightmare-season. If the team get their act together, he will become one of the world’s best classics riders.

ARU Fabio (400):
When you are on the ground it can only go uphill, right? His ceiling is immense and it’s only one and a half years since he destroyed the world on La Planche des Belles Filles. He will need to stop getting ill to make big points in GTs, though.

LAMBRECHT Bjorg (337):
From what I saw from him until now, he seems to be quite punchy for a climber. Usually, riders of that type, when they make it to the top level can score very high in the kind of rankings. In his second year as a pro and after a first GT experience I expect him to make that step soon.

MÜHLBERGER Gregor (327):
I was thinking about this one for a long time and now I ended up being the only one who picked him. I can understand that to a degree, however, I feel like he is very versatile for the kind of strong climber he is. This certainly widens the number of races where he can score compared to purer climbers of his calibre.

KUSS Sepp (314):
No rider, that I hadn’t heard of before 2018 impressed me as much as he did. His climbing in Utah was a joy to watch and he also showed some good rides in La Vuelta a bit later. I am looking forward to chear for him.

KITTEL Marcel (296):
Definitely not finished.

KUDUS Merhawi Gebremedhin (279):
He went to Astana for 2019, that is basically the reason for me to pick him. Aged 20, he finished his first GT and was strong in several pro stage races. I basically expected him to become star at that point but so far it wasn’t to be. I will be very interested to see what he can do in the new environment.

MCNULTY Brandon (273):
First caught my eye with great panache shown on the way to Hatta Dam. Even more impressive was his climbing to me in California. Better GC only prevented by bad luck in the TT. Maybe a bit too early to expect big jumps but I can’t be the only one to see the next big thing from the other side of the big pond right there.

CHAVES RUBIO Jhoan Esteban (263):
If he overcomes his health issues, he will automatically score higher.

ARERUYA Joseph (256):
Scored big time on the Africa Tour during the last one and a half years. Now with Delko in Europe and definitely had some acclimatization problems in the beginning. Will he be able to overcome those? Very speculative from me, however, I still expect him to achieve good results in Gabon and Rwanda with a stronger to team by his side now.

MÄDER Gino (255):
Very fun to watch in the U23-Worlds and confirmed that performance impressively in Hainan. I was thinking back and forth between him and Hirschi, in the end I couldn’t resist to have three riders with an ’Ä’ in my line up.

MARTIN Tony (248):
Understandibly one of the more popular picks. Transfer from Katusha to Jumbo can only be beneficial at this point. I expect him to be relegated to a pure helper but also to improve again in the TTs. In the end those will make him score enough points.

ASGREEN Kasper (229):
Some good results in the TTs and part of the World Champion squad already in his first season as a pro. He also completed his first GT and showed impressive climbing and endurance skills in the WCRR. Talented rider and with the current rise of Danish cycling I just had to include one. Lack of freedom could be a problem for him.

COSNEFROY Benoit (229):
My only French rider. A strong ride in Paris-Tours brought him on my radar again and I feel like he is ready to make an important step. He rode a lot of races for a neo pro and a strong finish to the season makes me believe he has what it takes.

DE PLUS Laurens (226):
He showed a lot of promise already despite having so much problems with injuries so far. Could this be an ongoing problem for him? However, he already showed potential in both, mountains and TTs and if he manages to get a clean run he will break through.

O'CONNOR Ben (219):
He already scored my first 15 points, so definitely a good pick. Jokes aside, his climbing potential seems to be enormous and I’m looking forward to following him.

BAUHAUS Phil (196):
Before 2018, I would have expected him to do what Ackermann achieved. Breakthrough in 2019 is fine with me too!

SIVAKOV Pavel (195):
Too many people compare him with Bernal and then conclude that he had a disappointing season. This seems unfair to me because Sivakov was a neo pro in 2018 while Bernal was a third-year pro. It would have been unbelievable had he achieved what Bernal did in 2018. Yet he managed to impress me from time to time, he seems to be a well-rounded rider. For the price, a must-pick for me.

STANNARD Robert (172):
Interesting talent. Being on a young rider trip, I couldn’t resist but pick him. Looking at the Yates’, Mitchelton can be a good team for a young rider to develop.

GESCHKE Simon (172):
A reliable helper for the team over the last few years. At CCC he will enjoy more freedom and should score more points.

MOSER Moreno (157):
Hope dies last.

GARCIA CORTINA Ivan (153):
Strong sprinter with classics potential. Needed a Spaniard in my team.

VLIEGEN Loïc (109):
From BMC to Wanty should be the right step to get back on track. Better than those 109.

ZARIFF Nur Aiman Muhammad (55):
Don’t know much about him, but I wanted a rider for the Asia Tour and so I chose him. Good sprinter with track background. According to a Malaysian news article he is talented as well.

BETTIOL Alberto (50):
Obvious pick.

HÄNNINEN Jaakko (48):
Seriously impressive ride in Innsbruck, had a good season in French amateur races as well so AG2R should be a good fit.

KÄMNA Lennard (37):
Immense talent.

UKINIWABO René Jean Paul (33):
Could score high on the Africa Tour. Not the obvious choice though.

HABTOM Awet Tekle (26):
Room for improvement.

EVENEPOEL Remco, VAKOC Petr (0):
The most obvious zero-pointers for me.


Overall 33 riders from 17 nations:
GER 7
ITA 4
BEL 4
USA 2
ERI 2
RWA 2
AUS 2
AUT 1
COL 1
SUI 1
DEN 1
FRA 1
RUS 1
ESP 1
MAS 1
FIN 1
CZE 1
 
SafeBet said:
Ouch, I didn't really worry about his health since Illuminate gave him a contract just a few days ago and assumed he went through some medical tests. What are his problems?
some kind of problem with his leg. Torres said that he hopes to be fine again for 2019, but I would be more worried about Androni terminating his contract than confident about Illuminate signing him, tbh ;)
 
Re:

Sestriere said:
MARTIN Tony (248):
Understandibly one of the more popular picks. Transfer from Katusha to Jumbo can only be beneficial at this point. I expect him to be relegated to a pure helper but also to improve again in the TTs. In the end those will make him score enough points.
One of my hobby-horses is to dispute this idea that Tony Martin has declined dramatically in TTs. While he is not the dominant force he once was, he has remained one of the 3-4 best riders in long, flat TTs throughout recent years. This is pretty much what you would expect for a rider hitting his mid-thirties.

The problem is just that races so rarely include long, flat TTs these days. The past two world championship courses have been terrible for him. He rode only two long, flat TTs last year--the German championships, which he won, and Giro stage 16, where he was second to Dennis, beating Dumoulin, Van Emden, and Froome. So he was still a top rider in his specialty, but was rarely able to show it.

On the whole, then, this year offers some upside for him, because the World's course won't be quite as bad for him--with no single, large climb--but it is still hardly flat. And it is just not clear to me how many opportunities he will get to ride the kind of TTs in which he excels. Plus he is a year older. So while he will probably be able to match or beat his score from last year, I just didn't the potential for a large upside.
 
Re:

Sestriere said:
According to a Malaysian news article he is talented as well.
Even more solid reasoning. :D

Seriously though, it's a very interesting team, but I feel there are too many wildly uncertain picks for it to be around the top of the standings. But if you hit the target with some of the really obscure ones, you'll at least get some very well-deserved credit!

Jakob747 said:
I made the GIF above to summarize why I picked Alberto Dainese already this year, despite him only being 20 years of age. Hell of a sprinter, we gonna hear a lot about him in the years to come.

My question is, does SEG ride a CQ points-friendy calender at continental level? Is it more attractive sprinting wise than in 2017 - Where Jakobsen scored 117 points?
That sprint (and a lot of other good sprints too) is one of the reasons why I rate Dainese very, very highly. I was very close to picking him for my own team too, and he was a given in my youth game team.

As for the calendar: I had SEG's Cees Bol as a unique pick last year and he was great for me, scoring 240 points as a zero-pointer. Probably the best unique pick. And he was overage, so he couldn't race U23 races. Still, he had plenty of Belgian and Dutch races where he could get points. He would've gotten even more if Dainese hadn't been the leader for a few of them. ;)
 
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