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The 2022 CQ Ranking Manager Thread

Page 9 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Look like I've missed a lot of popular picks, however I've missed two of them by purpose. I just do not believe in Dumoulin's and Pinot's comeback, but with the popularity they have, looks like I was wrong. Well in this case, I'd be happy too, I'd like to see them winning again, especially Pinot.
 
Look like I've missed a lot of popular picks, however I've missed two of them by purpose. I just do not believe in Dumoulin's and Pinot's comeback, but with the popularity they have, looks like I was wrong. Well in this case, I'd be happy too, I'd like to see them winning again, especially Pinot.
I couldn't convince myself to pick Pinot, but I will be routing for him anyway.

However, Dumoulin has already 'come back' re: Olympics. Yes he broke a wrist but hearing how positive he is pre-season is fantastic to see (another guy I find easy to rout for).
 
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Looking at the popularity table, I'm shocked at how high Ewan is. I have him on my team so it's not like I think he's going to be a bad pick but he's also a 27 years old who cosst 482 points and has exactly one season above 800 points. He should be a pretty safe pick but I don't feel like there's that much upside either. With hindsight, I probably should have made a better attempt at fitting Pidcock in my team somehow. Swapping out Skjelmose, Battistella and Van Gils for Pidock, Jungels and Vader for instance would have probably been a better combination (and cheaper too). Not as much fun though.

The other popular picks that are not on my team I at least considered. I'm not really worried about them even if a couple of those at least are bound to have good seasons. Buchmann's 2019 looks more like an outlier with every passing year. Bennett is kind of like Ewan, expensive without amazing upside (also a sprinter over 30 so he could drop off at any time) and I don't think he's as fast as Ewan either. Geoghegan Hart has an outlier Giro performance in very unique circumstances and a pretty depleted field. None of his other results scream world class to me but he's pretty inexpensive so he should be a safe pick regardless (also I have Jay Hindley so there's some selective memory concerning the 2020 Giro on my part for sure). Andersen is a strong rider, but not necessarily the type of rider that translates his strength super well into CQ points. Hopefully De Plus can sort his career out but there are just so many guys in front of him in the Ineos hierarchy, I don't know how many oppportunities he'll get. Miguel Angel Lopez's score has been going down for three straight years. I don't expect that to continue in 2022 but seeing him trend in the wrong direction certainly gave me pause. Jakobsen is probably the one that gives me the most concern. He's Quick Step number 1 sprinter so health permitting there's no way he doesn't break even. But for him to really swing the game he would need to double his score and to do that would basically mean being the best sprinter in the world. I don't know that I'm quite there yet with him. Also I already had Evenepoel and Bagioli so I wanted a bit more diversity in terms of teams for my top riders.

I just didn't know enough about Plapp's abilities outside time trials to pick him. Ineos doesn't necessarily have the best track record with neo pros either. Even on his best terrain Hirschi is the second best or third best option on his own team. Sure it might allow him to anticipate the fight between the favorites from time to time but I believe that over the course of an entire season that puts a hard cap on his ceiling. Also he costs nearly 600 points so at that price I feel it shouldn't be too difficult project a 1000+ season but I legit don't know how he gets there on that team so hard pass.
 
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I couldn't convince myself to pick Pinot, but I will be routing for him anyway.

However, Dumoulin has already 'come back' re: Olympics. Yes he broke a wrist but hearing how positive he is pre-season is fantastic to see (another guy I find easy to rout for).
My concern with Dumoulin is that the scaled back race programme he had last year was ideal given his previous issues with his knees and his love of the sport. Going back to the grind of a regular race programme isn't necessarily going to work although if it does then clearly you need him on your team and I'm going to regret not picking him
 
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Looking at the popularity table, I'm shocked at how high Ewan is. I have him on my team so it's not like I think he's going to be a bad pick but he's also a 27 years old who cosst 482 points and has exactly one season above 800 points. He should be a pretty safe pick but I don't feel like there's that much upside either. With hindsight, I probably should have made a better attempt at fitting Pidcock in my team somehow. Swapping out Skjelmose, Battistella and Van Gils for Pidock, Jungels and Vader for instance would have probably been a better combination (and cheaper too). Not as much fun though.

The other popular picks that are not on my team I at least considered. I'm not really worried about them even if a couple of those at least are bound to have good seasons. Buchmann's 2019 looks more like an outlier with every passing year. Bennett is kind of like Ewan, expensive without amazing upside (also a sprinter over 30 so he could drop off at any time) and I don't think he's as fast as Ewan either. Geoghegan Hart has an outlier Giro performance in very unique circumstances and a pretty depleted field. None of his other results scream world class to me but he's pretty inexpensive so he should be a safe pick regardless (also I have Jay Hindley so there's some selective memory concerning the 2020 Giro on my part for sure). Andersen is a strong rider, but not necessarily the type of rider that translates his strength super well into CQ points. Hopefully De Plus can sort his career out but there are just so many guys in front of him in the Ineos hierarchy, I don't know how many oppportunities he'll get. Miguel Angel Lopez's score has been going down for three straight years. I don't expect that to continue in 2022 but seeing him trend in the wrong direction certainly gave me pause. Jakobsen is probably the one that gives me the most concern. He's Quick Step number 1 sprinter so health permitting there's no way he doesn't break even. But for him to really swing the game he would need to double his score and to do that would basically mean being the best sprinter in the world. I don't know that I'm quite there yet with him. Also I already had Evenepoel and Bagioli so I wanted a bit more diversity in terms of teams for my top riders.

I just didn't know enough about Plapp's abilities outside time trials to pick him. Ineos doesn't necessarily have the best track record with neo pros either. Even on his best terrain Hirschi is the second best or third best option on his own team. Sure it might allow him to anticipate the fight between the favorites from time to time but I believe that over the course of an entire season that puts a hard cap on his ceiling. Also he costs nearly 600 points so at that price I feel it shouldn't be too difficult project a 1000+ season but I legit don't know how he gets there on that team so hard pass.
In my opinion, you also have a little secret weapon in Axel Zingle - A rider who I seriously, seriously considered but had to cut due to budget problems in the end!

Zingle is a really talented puncheur with immense room for growth. I think he can excel in the Coupe de France series already this year. You could see in Besançon last season how he bridged to the Nairo and Grimay group with relative ease. For talk, we must also remember how Zingle broke the record on Montée De Gribaldy with a time of 5min 26sec. He shaved 5 seconds of Christophe Moreau time who did 5min 31sec back in 1996.

French mega-talent Romain Grégoire did 5min 40sec and he is a name we are bound to see very soon in the pro-peloton, fantastic prospect nothing less! However about Zingle I think he is one of the most underrated talents, few people talk about him, but he is very, very promising.

 
Thanks for the additional info about Zingle, I expect big things from him. Exactly the kind of riders I prefer for this game. Low risk, high reward, young, somewhat already proven at the pro level, flying under the radar (so he's going to be a rare pick), calendar set up for a lot of "easy" points, no obvious rider to block his opportunities (I don't expect he'll spend much time being a domestique for Martin). One of the six riders I knew I was going to include in my team before even starting my research (Evenepoel, Ayuso, Dumoulin, Pinot and Vermeersch) though I certainly don't expect him to score like the other five.

I'm not going to lie, considering how knowledgeable you are about prospects especially from South America, I feel much better seeing you are one of the two other people with Buitrago in their team. I'd love to hear your rationale behind picking Hirschi though. Like I said, I don't question the talent but considering his team steup I just don't know how he'll score enough to justify his price.
 
Thanks for the additional info about Zingle, I expect big things from him. Exactly the kind of riders I prefer for this game. Low risk, high reward, young, somewhat already proven at the pro level, flying under the radar (so he's going to be a rare pick), calendar set up for a lot of "easy" points, no obvious rider to block his opportunities (I don't expect he'll spend much time being a domestique for Martin). One of the six riders I knew I was going to include in my team before even starting my research (Evenepoel, Ayuso, Dumoulin, Pinot and Vermeersch) though I certainly don't expect him to score like the other five.

I'm not going to lie, considering how knowledgeable you are about prospects especially from South America, I feel much better seeing you are one of the two other people with Buitrago in their team. I'd love to hear your rationale behind picking Hirschi though. Like I said, I don't question the talent but considering his team steup I just don't know how he'll score enough to justify his price.
I can try at least. This year I only went for riders who because of their potential mixed with their rider repertoires have an insanely high ceiling points-wise- at least in theory. With that, I mean riders who can shine in one-day events as well as in stage races (not necessarily meaning GTs).

You can say I wanted riders who can be competitive all year long in every race their enter - as I said at least in theory) therefor forexample Hayter, Pidcock, Hirschi and Higuita. --- Hayter and Pidcock are versatile mega-talents of a caliber I have trouble even describing, hors category if you will.

Hirschi in my opinion also fits in this category, I knew before deadline about his hip-operation yet I didn't want to swap him anyway as I have insane faith in his capabilities. Obviosusly his 2020 season was beyond brilliant from performance perspective, practically he matched Alaphilippe in everything, and I have seen people doubting all from his creadbilaty because it was deemed suspicious how he was riding (and his bond with Cancellara for example), to his position in the pecking order within UAE which also have been brought up and now his recent operation as well. There are indeed a lot of uncertainty around Hirschi that's undebatable.

I just choose to look at things from a positive perspective, his operation for example, ok he won't start riding until sometime in March, he has already had more or less one month of rehabilitation so I think he is on time regarding his spring calendar, besides I have a ton of believe that he will be flying in autumn anyway so I think he will be competitive all year long, bar those early March races - that's just my take anyway. Besides who is not to say that he will be actually better now that he is finally riding pain-free? I mean It's at least as plausible as to say he won't reach his best level and will just stagnate his development curve. Maybe this operation means he can finally climb comfortably again like he did when he won on Station du Lac Blanc and Dlouhé Stráně and was second on Planche des Belles Filles and won the Worlds in Innsbruck, Hirschi always was a very, very gifted climber and those names he participated against was a lethal generation mind you.

Of course, Pogacar is a concern, best rider in the world bar none, be even he has now gotten a new block of domestics like Soler and Bennett plus Majka and McNulty has been mentioned as well, and I don't see Hirschi in that puzzle. Another part of my optimism is I don't think Joao Almeida will actually deliver at the scale most people are expecting him to be at. But that's yet to be seen of confirmed, of course, I just have huge faith in Hirschi as a whole and believe he is a proper class act. I don't expect 2000 points from him, but I would lie if I didn't admit I foresaw at least 1000 points, time will tell if that's just a pipe-dream.
 
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Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I guess where we disagree most is his role compared to Almeida. I have him strictly behind Almeida in the team's hierarchy but I'm a fan of the portuguese so that could cloud my judgement a bit. He could also drop off some after leaving Quick Step. He wouldn't be the first one to do so.
 
I find it interesting how you guys approach the game. Obviously I'm not close to having your knowledge, so I'm mostly looking for patterns in the points distribution.
My most important factor, anyway, is whether there are reasons someone didn't reach the points he could have gained last season and those "problems", whether injury or wrong team or Olympics or whatever, are now "solved" or likely solved or there's at least a good chance of them being solved.
So I'm looking less at "how much can this rider achieve, ideally, and how far away from that is his price", and more at "how likely is it that this rider gains more points next season".
 
Zingle, I expect big things from him. Exactly the kind of riders I prefer for this game. Low risk, high reward, young, somewhat already proven at the pro level, flying under the radar (so he's going to be a rare pick), calendar set up for a lot of "easy" points, no obvious rider to block his opportunities.
Very much my kind of pick, as well! Problem is, as I mentioned, I didn't really follow cycling a lot last year, so I have to admit I have barely heard of him (proves your under-the-radar point!), and didn't consider him at all. But I love me a rider who can rip up the French calendar, and I have made several picks with that in mind in earlier iterations of the game. I guess Vuillermoz is my Zingle this year. Way less exciting, I know.
 
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you are one of the two other people with Buitrago in their team.
When Buitrago joined the Italian U23 squad, Cinelli, back in March 2018 - they immediately tested him at a lab in Perugia and discovered his excellent aerobic engine - He has a Vo2max above 80. So far so good, after the first few races he did GM: Francesco Ghiarè's asked Andrea Bianco if Buitrago had ever ridden a bike before? :p because he seemed to crash all the time! However, his adaption to European racing got better and the results and strong performances came along. P. Alberati presented Rod Ellingworth with a Conconi Test and apparently Bahrain wanted to sign him immediately.

Alberati thinks Buitrago can ride into the top-10 of a GT very soon! Santi has moved to Andora and in 2021 he lost 3 kilos in comparison to his debut season. On Lagunas de Neila you could see he's growing, always aware always attentive. BTW Damiano Caruso had the climbers jersey at Settimana Ciclistica Italiana, but Buitrago asked for permission to go for some points and Caruso said OK go ahead, Buitrago did accelerate and took the points. Caruso told Alberati - This kid is going to be good. :).
 
When Buitrago joined the Italian U23 squad, Cinelli, back in March 2018 - they immediately tested him at a lab in Perugia and discovered his excellent aerobic engine - He has a Vo2max above 80. So far so good, after the first few races he did GM: Francesco Ghiarè's asked Andrea Bianco if Buitrago had ever ridden a bike before? :p because he seemed to crash all the time! However, his adaption to European racing got better and the results and strong performances came along. P. Alberati presented Rod Ellingworth with a Conconi Test and apparently Bahrain wanted to sign him immediately.

Alberati thinks Buitrago can ride into the top-10 of a GT very soon! Santi has moved to Andora and in 2021 he lost 3 kilos in comparison to his debut season. On Lagunas de Neila you could see he's growing, always aware always attentive. BTW Damiano Caruso had the climbers jersey at Settimana Ciclistica Italiana, but Buitrago asked for permission to go for some points and Caruso said OK go ahead, Buitrago did accelerate and took the points. Caruso told Alberati - This kid is going to be good. :).
That was a good climbing performance in Burgos.

I would put some reservation over his TT-ability. He will probably find more trouble in the flat stages, positioning in the peloton, wind and how he deals with attrition over time from hard stages. His endurance and recovery.

We will see.
 
I find it interesting how you guys approach the game. Obviously I'm not close to having your knowledge, so I'm mostly looking for patterns in the points distribution.
My most important factor, anyway, is whether there are reasons someone didn't reach the points he could have gained last season and those "problems", whether injury or wrong team or Olympics or whatever, are now "solved" or likely solved or there's at least a good chance of them being solved.
So I'm looking less at "how much can this rider achieve, ideally, and how far away from that is his price", and more at "how likely is it that this rider gains more points next season".
I don't base my selection solely on what is the realistic higher end score that a rider is going to achieve. It's more that I use that as a first criteria to sort out if a rider is even worth investigating further. Then I factor in whether I like the rider or not, what his median and low-end outcomes look like, how confident I am that he'll reach the median/high-end outcomes, how much budget I have left plus all my (sub)conscious biases. After all that I usually go through a couple of drafts before ending with the final version of my team then there's a couple facepalms when I see the popularity table/other teams, and a lot more throughout the year. Of course there's also a bunch of rewarding moments especially when you get to watch one of your riders turn into a star in real time (Vermeersch last Paris-Roubaix for instance).


That was a good climbing performance in Burgos.

I would put some reservation over his TT-ability. He will probably find more trouble in the flat stages, positioning in the peloton, wind and how he deals with attrition over time from hard stages. His endurance and recovery.

We will see.
That's always a concern with riders that are on the lighter side and/or have limited bike handling skills and/or have limited experience. My hope is that he'll race mainly in the spanish scene where stage races tend to be a lot more forgiving in those aspects than elsewhere on the continent.
 
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Okay, here's the third and final part of my extremely lengthy team breakdown, which releases me from the curse that has been put upon me. Now I am allowed to proceed with administering the game and starting on updates.

Matthew Walls (185, 15) – the second sprinter on my roster who convinced me at Piemonte to take them. After watching a bit more track cycling this year I had my eye on him a bit, and with Ackermann and Sagan going out at Bora I figured he’d be in line for increased chances even with Bennett coming back, plus now that the Olympics are done he’s going to spend a bit more time on the road. Realizing that I had overlooked the recruitment of van Poppel (who I think I read is going to do more classics than stage sprinting anyway) and the development of Meeus put him on the margins of my team in the last couple of weeks. But ultimately I kept him in as one of my last picks, it was kind of between him and Schmid to throw off the roster to make my last change and I took off Schmid instead. But if he races more and gets a bit more consistent at making it to the sprints of races, he should be good for doubling his score at least.

Antonio Tiberi (111, 15) – Had a pretty muted neo-pro year, but you can’t expect too much from a 19-year old (well most of them anyway). But he’s got a good engine (junior world TT champ) and seems to have turned that into some good victories from sustained attacks here and there… admittedly I’m not a junior racing obsessive, I’m just looking at the easily available results. But I noticed him a couple of times in races last year hanging in there longer than I thought he would, and he seems like someone who could score ok in one-days, stages, TTs and even decent placings in smaller stage races.

Oliver Naesen (324, 14) – one of six ‘double down’ riders on my team (that’s riders I picked last year as well; he joins Evenepoel, Pidcock, Sosa, Jungels and Jansen), he theoretically should get back to an 800-1000 point pace this season. If his explanation of overtraining is accurate as the main reason his season was a relative disappointment, well, that’s certainly happened before. Aging isn’t a huge concern (30 should be fine), but the increased training/output/etc of the peloton is a fear of mine, and I’m worried we might see riders from teams that are trailing in sports science (you can put quotes around that if you are clinically minded) like Lotto and Ag2r might be on the back foot for the next little while. But I generally believe in him and also like him (love those ‘factory worker to peloton’ stories), so I’ll be happy to cheer him on.

Kaden Groves (67, 13) – I have casually followed his career to know enough to feel confident that he’s fast, he had some bad luck last year (2 crashes made him miss some time, plus a DQ threw his schedule off), and he’s on a team that’s positioned to give him chances in 2022. He’s won at every level, and although a lot of his early career wins were in Asia and sometimes those don’t necessarily translate to wins in the European calendar, he’s got a decent track record.

Sacha Modolo (25, 13) – ah, my old friend. My pet pick way back in 2012, he was my most expensive and one of my least profitable riders. I think I had an attachment to his success back when a forum poster who I thought knew a lot was hyping him up when the CN forum first started. Then he got 4th in MSR in his neo pro season and I thought he was set for an upper echelon career. He’s done fine for himself, don’t get me wrong, but that’s still probably his best result (ok, Giro stage wins are good too). Anyway, in the late season when most of the big races were over, I was idly streaming a Tour of Luxembourg stage in the background when I saw him win his first race in years, score his only 25 points of the season, and break down in tears. That was a wonderful moment, and when putting together my CQ team I was thinking that a) it showed he still has some hunger for good results, which will mean he’ll still be there to play in 2022, b) but the pressure is off and the confidence is up from having a win, so that’ll allow things to flow easier, and c) he’s going to Bardiani, where it all started for him, so he’ll have lots of leadership opportunities and a ripe Italian calendar to play with. Either way, if he does win some stuff it’ll be great to dovetail my personal satisfaction with my CQ-game-related satisfaction.

Jay Vine (168, 12) – man, what a great story! The “Zwift-to-pro contract” pipeline is just being established, but it makes a certain amount of sense I suppose for a sport where physiology counts for a fair amount. But there’s so much else, like mentality, technical positioning, etc. I do think there may be some external competitive advantage to switching to cycling when you haven’t grown up on it, like maybe your focus is less obsessive which can be healthy for some. But the exact alchemy of what makes a good rider is still a very complex process. Anyway – Jay Vine. Started riding a bike (like, at all) in high school. Did enough racing that he got a feel for it and decided at 24 while on a continental team that he should really give it a go and try to make it happen. Then covid hits. Then he wins a competition that could have likely only happened in covid. 2021 is a bit of an unknown, this novelty rider on a serious team. His first race, the .Pro level Tour of Turkey, which he loses by a single second! Then a couple of anonymous stage races in Europe, and thrown into the fire at the Vuelta. Where he rides around mostly anonymously, but memorably finishes 3rd in the breakaway of the MTF stage 14 after crashing, finishing behind Bardet and Herrada but notably ahead of Pidcock and Champoussin. His second year could go either way, but those brief flashes are promising, and if finishing the Vuelta built his engine for some consistency, and a year with Alpecin improved his energy efficiency in terms of positioning, he could really take off. But even if not, he’s easy to cheer for.

Amund Grondahl Jansen (46, 12) – I picked him last year because he was such a solid under-the-radar rider prior to that (I had never taken note of him until then, but he was one of those guys that consistently placed in races to garner lots of CQ points). I figured he couldn’t have as bad luck a year as in 2020 (I don’t remember why his year was bad but I had reasons when I picked him). But then his 2021 was somehow even worse, with getting sick right at the start of the year at P-N, then a bad crash partway through the season, and nursing a herniated disk. I’m ready to bet on him again.

Tobias Foss (351, 10) – I had my eye on him, and then kind of forgot about him, thinking that maybe he didn’t really have that much room for growth at a team as stacked as Jumbo. And it’s true that in most of the races he’s been part of, he’s hardly been at the front and on camera. But he’s treated differently in the team makeup than, say, Sam Oomen, who was similarly promising a few years ago but is clearly used as a mountain domestique. He’s an Avenir winner, and they’re talking about him at the Giro as a co-leader with Dumoulin. If he gets a similar top 10 in the Giro to last year or even improves/gets more stage placing points, and progresses in the week-long races enough to, say, be on the podium of a .Pro race or two, he could double his points. I expect steady progression, but also if he has a growth spurt in terms of form he could start winning stuff.

Iuri Leitao (18, 5) – I was following track a bit closer this fall and he impressed me there. However, track cycling doesn’t always translate well to road sprinting, and also ‘sprinter for Caja Rural’ has not always led to the biggest CQ haul (I think I once picked Nelson Soto for the emerging riders game with glee at all the chances he’d have). But, although two wins and a 2nd place in the 2.2 Volta Alejanto in 2021 isn’t exactly the biggest result, it’s at least something that shows he can be up there on the road (and a couple of top 10s in Algarve). And I read a recent interview with him where he was basically like “there’s more money on the road so I’m gonna go for it”, which makes him a good calculated risk at 18 points in my mind.

Clement Berthet (114, 2) – I always like the potential of a ‘switch to road cycling’ experiment, whether it’s from another sport (Roglic, Woods, Evenepoel) or from another discipline (Evans, MvdP, all the trackies and crossers, too many to list). But that also comes with some uncertainty – Bora’s various experiments over the past couple of years haven’t borne fruit, and guys like, say, Ondrej Cink dipped in and out pretty quickly. Berthet was someone who I figured had done enough in his first year since switching from MTB to show that he had a solid baseline and wouldn’t flame out. He got some respectable placings early in the season, then several more after switching from the troubled Delko to Ag2r’s setup in August. His highest result wasn’t anything to shoot fireworks off about (14th in Poland), but it was at the only WT race he did. On top of that, he finished every race except Turkey and a small 1.1 race, and made it to the end of a bunch of late-season one-day races in groups that were respectable enough to be a few minutes behind the leaders but not enough to up his CQ price. Keep that consistency and up the level a bit as he becomes more accustomed to the peloton, and I’m hopeful of a 300+ point campaign, which I’d be happy with.

Anders Halland Johannessen (84, 1) – my second unique pick ever! Hopefully it will go better than the time I picked Vendrame the year before he actually broke out. So sure, he was not my first pick, in fact he was one of the last in the classic late-stage team-building puzzle of ‘hmm, I need a rider around x points, maybe I should take a closer look at this guy I totally haven’t dismissed yet’. For sure his bro gets more attention for the more eye-popping results, but when I looked at his results more closely, they appealed to something I have long been a sucker for in this game – a consistent baseline. From high level guys I’ve chosen like Valverde (the ur-example of this), Mollema, and Pinot to others like Oomen (a few years ago before his bad year) and the above-mentioned Berthet, I tend to default to riders who will probably be pretty good in whatever race they do, and will therefore have a good floor if not the highest ceiling. His 2021 results included top 10s in the .Pro Tour of Turkey, Avenir and the Baby Giro (as well as the 2.2 Alpes Isere Tour). Stepping up to ProTeam level, even if he turns that Turkey result into 4-5 results at the same level races, and even goes a few steps higher into the top 5 or 7, he’ll be a good pick. Looks like Uno-X is making a run for the WT, so this year they’ll want to get GC points where they can get them, and I feel like he’ll be a good soldier in that cause.
 
Oliver Naesen (324, 14) – one of six ‘double down’ riders on my team (that’s riders I picked last year as well; he joins Evenepoel, Pidcock, Sosa, Jungels and Jansen), he theoretically should get back to an 800-1000 point pace this season. If his explanation of overtraining is accurate as the main reason his season was a relative disappointment, well, that’s certainly happened before. Aging isn’t a huge concern (30 should be fine), but the increased training/output/etc of the peloton is a fear of mine, and I’m worried we might see riders from teams that are trailing in sports science (you can put quotes around that if you are clinically minded) like Lotto and Ag2r might be on the back foot for the next little while. But I generally believe in him and also like him (love those ‘factory worker to peloton’ stories), so I’ll be happy to cheer him on.

Amund Grondahl Jansen (46, 12) – I picked him last year because he was such a solid under-the-radar rider prior to that (I had never taken note of him until then, but he was one of those guys that consistently placed in races to garner lots of CQ points). I figured he couldn’t have as bad luck a year as in 2020 (I don’t remember why his year was bad but I had reasons when I picked him). But then his 2021 was somehow even worse, with getting sick right at the start of the year at P-N, then a bad crash partway through the season, and nursing a herniated disk. I’m ready to bet on him again.
Two riders I also gave the benefit of the doubt and picked again.

Both have seen a pretty substantial drop-off in how many times they were picked compared to last time.

Naesen from 42 to 14.
Jansen from 33 to 12.

Compared to a rider like Jungels who was picked 61 times last year, kept his "worth", and got picked 62 times this year. Pretty much the same. He is probably not by a lot more obvious than the two above, in terms of potential to score more points and be a good pick. Im not expecting miracles, but his last ride in Paris-Tour was at least encouraging after his surgery.

Then there is De Plus who went from 56 to 35. He decreased a lot, but 35 times is still many picks for a rider who has had such big health issues. One of the riders I had last year, that I didnt pick again.
 
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Henri Vandenabeele (15, 30) – the last addition to my team; when I decided to shuffle a more expensive rider out for a higher cost one, I had to drop about 120 points to get under budget, so I turfed Mauro Schmid and looked around the sub-40 point riders and he seemed like the best option. I don’t have a ton of confidence – his results in U23 have been good, and I can convince myself of the narrative of “he was consistently good in 2020, then same in first part of 2021, then he got toxoplasmosis” and forecast a few hundred points. But I’m always skeptical of Lotto with neo-pros, apart from the ultimately tragic Bjorg Lambrecht (RIP) they either take a few years to figure it out on their own (Tim Wellens) or they end up being fool’s gold (Louis Vervaeke).
Good thing for you that he isn't riding for Lotto then ;)

Too bad it's DSM instead.
 
My hope is that he'll race mainly in the spanish scene
Buitrago won Feria de Manizales a few days ago btw. He handled Bryan Gomez in the sprint - Eazy work!... It's no mean feat because Gomez is really fast and has won mass-sprints on the American continent several times, which confirms Buitrago also has a serious burst of speed, plus he is really explosive so in some ways of form similar to Higuita!

Anyway, after the race, he confirmed he will ride the Giro D'Italia in 2022.

View: https://www.facebook.com/nuestrociclismo/videos/2839309859703066/
 
Two riders I also gave the benefit of the doubt and picked again.

Both have seen a pretty substantial drop-off in how many times they were picked compared to last time.

Naesen from 42 to 14.
Jansen from 33 to 12.

Compared to a rider like Jungels who was picked 61 times last year, kept his "worth", and got picked 62 times this year. Pretty much the same. He is probably not by a lot more obvious than the two above, in terms of potential to score more points and be a good pick. Im not expecting miracles, but his last ride in Paris-Tour was at least encouraging after his surgery.

Then there is De Plus who went from 56 to 35. He decreased a lot, but 35 times is still many picks for a rider who has had such big health issues. One of the riders I had last year, that I didnt pick again.
De Plus and Jungels are a lot cheaper than Naesen though, and that's honestly the only reason I picked them.
 
I saw the race via a VPN. Plapp was the strongest but also showed some good road IQ and was smart from a tactical standpoint. He clearly learned from last year's savage energy spentage mid-race. In the winners-interview, he said he came into the race "undercooked" and is not in his best shape yet.
 

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