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The 2023 CQ Ranking Manager Thread

Page 12 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Hey all, here's the full spreadsheet. Sorry it's a bit later than I hoped, I got pulled away by a few mundane but pressing things for the day.

It's a work in progress, only the 'Rankings' tab is current (ie not the 'Update' or 'Week and Month' ones), I've gotta clean it up over the next few days (get rid of old player tabs, update the sheet etc). But I wanted to give you something to sink your teeth into at least.
 
Looking at the team discussions so far, I’m realizing I need to up my research for future years.

Having picked a bunch of older guys last year, hoping for a return to form, and then being disappointed, this year’s team is all about youth. That’s my justification for not having Alaphilippe. I am now clearly now doubting my judgement, but there is no turning back and it’s a young man’s game now. So the next generation is going to limit his point-getting this year(!)

I’ve no excuse for Egan Bernal, I just forgot about him and gave up reading through the thousands of 1 – 5 point riders, so never even saw him sitting there.

For what it’s worth I went for;

Primoz Roglic, Carlos Rodriguez, Juan Ayusu as my big three. A lot of points rashly spent on these three but aiming for a big bounce back for Primoz and Carlos and Juan to challenge for two grand tours and to pick up a few big week long races as Remco, Tadej and Jonas take it easy and focus on the Giro and Tour. Couldn’t decide between the two, so picked them both (to avoid year long regret as the one I didn’t pick racked up the points)
Tom Pidcock surely has to turn his talent into big points; as long as he doesn’t share the wins with the other Ineos youngsters.
Santiago Buitrago – my secret weapon. Hoping he’ll take his chance among all the aging Bahrain stage racers to come to the fore
Matteo Jorgenson – like Buitrago to perform better than expected and to get numerous high finishes in stage races
Axel Laurence, Fred Wright and Quin Simmons to make breakthroughs in the big one day events
Jason Tesson looked fast last year and on a better team, hopefully he’ll win some smaller races
Jonathan Milan to make a sprinting breakthrough
Cian Uijdebroeks to have a solid year and one big win
Oscar Onley is our Scottish World Tour rider, so first name down on the list
Finn Fisher-Black, talented and a bad year last year

Archie Ryan, Lennert vanEetvelt, Leo Hayter, Matthew Riccitello, Liam Slock, Mason Hollyman and Reuben Thompson – it’s all about youth. Might be a bit early for them this year, but looking for a surprise and enjoying following them

Gianni Moscon Cees Bol, Kristoffer Halvorsen, Ide Schelling, Markus Hoelgaard, Nils Eekhoff, Casper Pedersen, Ben Hermans and Matthew Walls can’t do any worse than last year (assuming Bol gets a team!)

Anyway, fun to pick the team and good to read everyone else’s team descriptions.
 
I share 18 riders with Bonimenier and with Kazistuta, and there are 9 teams that I have 16 in common with. I have none of Samu's Basque Street Boys, and only one of Redhead Dane's squad, but 20 of the Collective Wisdom team.

You can find your twin teams by downloading the spreadsheet from Skidmark's post above, post your teamlist into column E of the 2023 Results tab (4th last on the workbook), fill column I of the same sheet with 1s, and then see the results on the Rankings tab (the very first one). Apologies if that is insultingly obvious for you

Similarity to the Collective Wisdom team (and therefore a fairly confident prediction of the popularity rankings:

Is popularity a predictor of success? Time will tell.
 
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So skdimark and LosBrolin are my closest twin teams with 19 and I'm furthest apart from Basque Street Boys (what a name by the way) with just one rider in common. Looking at how many points I've spent on the same riders, I'm actually closest with oliveira. We've spent a whooping 5210 points on common picks. By that metric skidmark is 5th (4964 points) because our four most expensive riders are the same. By contrast LosBrolin is only 24th as we agree on a lot of cheap picks but went in different directions up top.
 
Now that I'm getting to the 'tinkering' part of the spreadsheet work (rather than the 'frantic compiling/editing' part I just came through), I'm catching up on the thread and gonna drop a few comments even if they're not quite timely:

Iván García Cortina, 584 points
This one is a bit of a gamble, but hear me out. He is an all-round rider that is strong and fast, at least in a reduced bunch. He is a rider that should be in his prime years and could be on the verge of a big season. He ended last season with finishing 5th in Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, 11th in the WC RR, 5th in Coppa Bernocchi and he won Gran Piemonte. He has also ridden well on the cobbles in the past couple of seasons and finished 16th in E3 and 8th in Gent-Wevelgem last year. It is a daring pick but could be a game changer, if it pays out.

Pavel Sivakov, 536 points
He has been very unlucky with crashes and injuries, but is a rider that should be capable of more. He didn't have many results to speak of in the first half of the season but then finished 2nd in San Sebastian. He followed that up with winning the Vuelta Burgos and was in a decent position to finish in the top 10 in the Vuelta, halfwaythrough, but tested positive for covid and had to leave the race. His season was pretty much over after that. I think he is one of the most talented GC-riders of his generation and that he still has time to show it. Just need to find some momentum and confidence, but most importantly stay on his bike.

Andrea Piccolo, 509 points
He missed the first half of the season after Gazprom was ousted. Signed with Androni where he immediately started performing well in almost every race he started, which earned him a contract with EF. He continued to be good in races towards the end of the season and it will be interesting to see what he could do in a full year.

I admire these picks! IGC is definitely a bold pick, picking a 27-year-old rider after a career best year (that wasn't too much higher than his other years) is a move that takes some faith, but I can see what you're seeing, even if I don't give it a high enough probability of happening to suit my risk appetite. But he can score in most races across the calendar, and he's built his consistency and endurance on the biggest/hardest races sneakily well in the last few years. Definitely in the age of 20-year-old super-prodigies, it's easy to overlook what used to be a traditional development path of growing into racing and peaking in your late 20s. Worth a shot if you see the potential.

Speaking of overlooking good riders for shinier newer things, I think Sivakov could be a really nice pick. Ineos have pivoted in dizzyingly fast manner to a fun team that develops young one-day talents and stage race disruptors, and those have taken the attention away from this physiologically gifted but unlucky fella that was recruited as another soldier in their inexorabale GC army. It's a fun swing to take a chance on him - if everything turns out well for him, he can top 5 a GT as a helper and podium if his captain goes down. And with Yates/Carapaz gone, Bernal in uncertain recovery, and Thomas staring down 40 years old and as likely to crash out as to finish a GT, there's no real alpha (aside from maybe Rodriguez in the Vuelta) so he should be able to perform up to his level of form in most races. Plus, yeah, he got 2nd in a WT one-day and won a 2.Pro race last year, so his ceiling is just fine and he's proved he can do well in all format of races.

Piccolo I dunno, I had him last year and was relieved when he finally got a ride and thrilled at how consistently delivered. But I'm not sure if that can be extrapolated to a full season, he was hungry when he got his chance last year and made the most of it. But no doubt that he's a great rider, so it's entirely possible it can translate to some good points.
 
I like this pick! Could be a pretty good one I think. I guess a lot of people have lost faith in him after his 2022 which didn't look impressive when looking at the season as a whole, but he started out quite well and was struck down by illness for most of the year. Toxoplasmosis or something, if I remember correctly? Don't think we should write off Vandenabeele yet. He was very impressive as a U23, and I think he still has it. Didn't fit in my team, though.

Yeah I believe it was toxo... I actually couldn't remember and I looked around in the last few weeks but couldn't find the info I vaguely remembered from last year. But I have the same view as you, he showed promising results across the board in U23 and then at the start of last year... and then it was a bit opaque, which makes it hard to tell the difference between illness and mismanagement by DSM/other causes. But my first draft of my favourite 20 picks this year was already at 8000 points so I had to make some tough decisions about the Stuyvens and Wrights and Johannessens of the world, and piled in some 'cheap guys I feel good-but-not-great about' tier riders. Once that became the criteria, he was a no doubter lol.

Okay, so l'Avenir was pretty low level compared to some of the big U23 stage races last year, as evidenced by JSM and Hessmann finishing on the podium. Van Eetvelt crashed out (or was he ill?) and Martinez suffered from his crash. No Thompson, and Gloag also had some problems. But Uijtdebroeks apparently put up some absolutely off-the-charts numbers there. Was generally very impressive through the year, and will still do easy races this year in addition to some upgrades. But for me it's actually mostly a case of not daring to miss out, rather than really believing he'll be a must-have.

Yeah he was a defensive pick for me until I stumbled across a power analysis article that sold me on him. I think he'll be good either way, but could be great. 67 teams is alot, but his points still give you a leg up on a third of the field.
 
Unpopular opinion here but I don't even rate Roglic as the best 1000+ rider this year. I also have Evenepoel last year as a much better option than any 1000+ guy this time around (talking at the time of making the pick, obviously with hindsight we know how unlikely it is that anyone this year will equal 2022 Evenpoel). Roglic definitely is one of the better option at that price in recent years though.

Interesting. Who do you think is the best 1000+ choice? I will grant that Roglic is not the most exciting 1000+ pointer to imagine what he can do, because we know very well what he can do from 4 years of evidence, and maybe minus a little owing to advancing age and ascendant competition. But in terms of likely points potential, I don't think Ayuso, VdP or Rodriguez have >50% chance of clearing 2500 in 2023, and I think Roglic does.

Is it really a skidmark team if Grosu isn't on it though ?

That was only twice!

I do tend to (as I'm sure everyone does) have my guys that I quixotically convince myself are going to be good rare picks that often just don't work out. The first year of this game (I think) I picked Kristjan Koren, because, uhhh, he had solid results that made me think if he could move up a level his points increase would be worth it, I guess? And also because picking a Slovenian rider seemed exotic in 2011.

But I don't think I have that this year, even if like every year I have to talk myself out of optimistically selling myself on the idea that this is the year that picking Michael Woods and Dion Smith makes sense. (And yes Squire, Clement Berthet was that pick for me last year).

Honestly I felt like this was the most underwhelming crop of 600-1000 points riders I can recall but Gaudu was really the only one that stood out for me. One of these days he'll put together a season where he's good both in the classics and the GTs and he'll put up a big number. That Tour de France route isn't going to hurt either. But I'm very high on Ayuso so I would have taken the other combo. Considering the lack of alternatives in that range I'm surprised Gaudu wasn't picked more.

Yeah I took a hard look at Gaudu, but don't trust his ceiling to be as high as the combo of riders I ended up with. But I agree that if it all falls into place, he's got the tools. I think Almeida could be a good pick in that range, and if he was not with UAE I probably would pick him, but I think he's got the Giro and a few other races to be the guy there, which isn't enough to justify that points total. When spending that much on a rider, I have to ask myself "if it goes wrong at x crucial part of the season, how much value can be made up the rest of the calendar"?

That's why I feel okay about Roglic, because even if he makes his CQ hay often in the early season glut of week-long WT stage races, he's on track to start at Catalunya which is early enough, and also he can win one days, the Worlds TT, etc etc. Plus the Giro gives a big window for upside, he can podium 2 GTs and do well at the Worlds in the summer, or if he crashes out of the Giro he can retool and load up anywhere on the calendar really. I don't feel that about Almeida. (I do more about Gaudu though)

Anyway, aside from that, the only riders in that range I even looked at for a sec were Hirschi and Mollema (the latter mostly out of respect for his solid career record), and that was just a glance.

Concerning Fisher-Black, obviously not a risky gamble at that price but I'm surprised at the amount of support he has had. Beyond the concern from coming back after such a long layoff I'm not sure I've heard a compelling explanation as to why he didn't show anything prior to his crash. It would be one thing if he crashed out in February but his year ended in late May and that's a fairly decent chunk of the season where he did nothing.

Totally agree. His prior points have been a bit empty too, like 4th in the Belgium Tour is fine and there are a few of those races that you can get some GC points with classic and TT skill. But, like, maybe with QuickStep or a French ProTeam or something. At UAE, if you have those skills, they'll use your engine to be the 4th from last pacer at a GT like Bjerg. I have hopes for the kid but I'm not sure where his path is to CQ points this year.
 
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I admire these picks! IGC is definitely a bold pick, picking a 27-year-old rider after a career best year (that wasn't too much higher than his other years) is a move that takes some faith, but I can see what you're seeing, even if I don't give it a high enough probability of happening to suit my risk appetite. But he can score in most races across the calendar, and he's built his consistency and endurance on the biggest/hardest races sneakily well in the last few years. Definitely in the age of 20-year-old super-prodigies, it's easy to overlook what used to be a traditional development path of growing into racing and peaking in your late 20s. Worth a shot if you see the potential.

Speaking of overlooking good riders for shinier newer things, I think Sivakov could be a really nice pick. Ineos have pivoted in dizzyingly fast manner to a fun team that develops young one-day talents and stage race disruptors, and those have taken the attention away from this physiologically gifted but unlucky fella that was recruited as another soldier in their inexorabale GC army. It's a fun swing to take a chance on him - if everything turns out well for him, he can top 5 a GT as a helper and podium if his captain goes down. And with Yates/Carapaz gone, Bernal in uncertain recovery, and Thomas staring down 40 years old and as likely to crash out as to finish a GT, there's no real alpha (aside from maybe Rodriguez in the Vuelta) so he should be able to perform up to his level of form in most races. Plus, yeah, he got 2nd in a WT one-day and won a 2.Pro race last year, so his ceiling is just fine and he's proved he can do well in all format of races.

Piccolo I dunno, I had him last year and was relieved when he finally got a ride and thrilled at how consistently delivered. But I'm not sure if that can be extrapolated to a full season, he was hungry when he got his chance last year and made the most of it. But no doubt that he's a great rider, so it's entirely possible it can translate to some good points.

Yes, IGC and Sivakov I am feeling really excited about! I managed to tick off quite a few popular picks it seems like as well, so them two are a nice twist and might give me an edge I am hoping. We will see how it goes :D

When it comes to Piccolo I also had him last year. I think I have had riders like him in the past where I have picked them when they were cheap and seen them score 400-500 points. I been very happy with the pick that year, but then not picked them again just to see them score almost a thousand or more the year after. Piccolo has great potential and could be a rider that does just that, in a full season this time. He has shown what he can do in one-day races and where I hope he also scores points is in some stage-races. We havent seen what he could do there and he has been able to TT quite well in the past. In a more hillier type of stage-race with a prologue or an ITT, I think he could do really well.

It is possible that he could have a "sophomore slump" type of season, or something unexpected happens, but then so be it. Trying to see it from an optimistic view. He is only picked by 22 teams so he could be a rider that could become important to have, if he delivers.

Edit: Another rider like this is Lucas Plapp, who was picked many times last year, that is "only" picked 13 times this season. I actually didnt have him last year, but have him now instead. Maybe a few will regret not doubling down on him, but only time will tell.
 
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Hey all, here's the full spreadsheet. Sorry it's a bit later than I hoped, I got pulled away by a few mundane but pressing things for the day.

It's a work in progress, only the 'Rankings' tab is current (ie not the 'Update' or 'Week and Month' ones), I've gotta clean it up over the next few days (get rid of old player tabs, update the sheet etc). But I wanted to give you something to sink your teeth into at least.
So I am 9th in the Popularity Ranking, and 2nd (behind Salvarani) in the Popularity Ranking, if you only count teams without Roglic. So that means I have to hope for a "normal or expected" season with an underperformance of Roglic. Then I will be one of the best.. :)
 
WTF, my team doesn't look half bad. Course I missed a couple of cheeky picks like Igor Arrieta and Penho -something, but have added some rare picks like Pithie that could maybe, possibly do well.

Could just as easily end up in the bottom 25%, though. I intentionally left guys like Kwiatek out. Not that I don't believe in them, but with up and coming riders like Plapp and Wright there was simply no space left to fit him in.

I did go for Sagan - perhaps foolishly so. I don't expect huge things from him, but think he has another decent to good season in him. If he can somehow find his 2020 legs, I'd be pleased.

If Mas doesn't go > 150% my team is pretty much ****ed, though.

Maybe I jinxed my team by including freaking Moscon. Although I believe everyone deserves a 100th chance. Will be pleased if someone who didn't pick him wins, though. Would serve the rest of us right.

12 people confident enough in the Cavendish & Bol to Astana deal coming off that they have picked the Dutchman.

Sure - it's probably only down to the $$$. But Bol could score more points if he signed for a Dutch CT team. I don't think he's done with cycling yet. I picked him for the late season races. I don't expect him to be a leadout all year.

Admittedly not a pick I'm at all confident about.
 
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I share 18 riders with Bonimenier and with Kazistuta, and there are 9 teams that I have 16 in common with. I have none of Samu's Basque Street Boys, and only one of Redhead Dane's squad, but 20 of the Collective Wisdom team.

You can find your twin teams by downloading the spreadsheet from Skidmark's post above, post your teamlist into column E of the 2023 Results tab (4th last on the workbook), fill column I of the same sheet with 1s, and then see the results on the Rankings tab (the very first one). Apologies if that is insultingly obvious for you
I was so excited to find a team I share 33 riders with, took me a couple of seconds to realize it was mine!
Anyways, @Salvarani and @skidmark are the teams I share the most riders with (20). I have nobody in common with @Samu Cuenca as well.
 
For me, it's unsurprisingly @MADRAZO who's my 'twin' team again with 20 shared riders. Then @Devil's Elbow with 17 and @skidmark with 16.

When spending that much on a rider, I have to ask myself "if it goes wrong at x crucial part of the season, how much value can be made up the rest of the calendar"? [...] I don't feel that about Almeida. (I do more about Gaudu though)
Yeah, this is part of why I think Gaudu was a very safe option. And, contrary to you, it also factored into the stuff that made me feel better about leaving Roglic out.

Anyway, aside from that, the only riders in that range I even looked at for a sec were Hirschi and Mollema (the latter mostly out of respect for his solid career record), and that was just a glance.
Yeah, Hirschi was someone I looked at too, and with some luck he can score a lot. But he's just a bit too uncertain for me for several reasons. There are some other 600-1000 riders I think are decent as well, it's not like there were no viable options there, but it's just that 1000+ and <600 were much better this year.

Totally agree. His prior points have been a bit empty too, like 4th in the Belgium Tour is fine and there are a few of those races that you can get some GC points with classic and TT skill. But, like, maybe with QuickStep or a French ProTeam or something. At UAE, if you have those skills, they'll use your engine to be the 4th from last pacer at a GT like Bjerg. I have hopes for the kid but I'm not sure where his path is to CQ points this year.
Bjerg doesn't climb anywhere near as well as Fisher-Black though. And UAE does a massive calendar. All sorts of minor races - you'd think they were in a relegation fight. Don't confuse them with someone like Bahrain. UAE did put Fisher-Black into the Tour of Norway, Boucles de la Mayenne and some minor Belgian, Spanish and French races, after all. They just have certain riders, like Bjerg, for the donkey work. I expect someone like Fisher-Black to get a very nice calendar. Matxin seems to believe in him a lot. However, I was put off a bit by him saying he could now 'almost' put the same power through both legs. Though he has been training fully since October, so he might be fine. And I was getting excited about the potential of Osborne, who I replaced Fisher-Black with.

Speaking of cheap riders with big injury lay-offs, I was expecting Milan Vader to be way more popular. Was very worried about leaving him out, but after seeing his popularity (or lack thereof) I'm more relaxed about it.
 
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What do you all reckon that Ghirmay's ceiling for this year is? I was initially quite happy with the pick and I doubt he'll do worse than 600-700 points but then again he is a type of rider that may have difficulties to score more than 1500-2000 points even in his prime unless he really reaches Boonen/Sagan level.
 
What do you all reckon that Ghirmay's ceiling for this year is? I was initially quite happy with the pick and I doubt he'll do worse than 600-700 points but then again he is a type of rider that may have difficulties to score more than 1500-2000 points even in his prime unless he really reaches Boonen/Sagan level.
Since 2015, there have been five riders who have scored 1500+ points from the kind of races Girmay is supposed to do well in. Those are Kristoff, Van Avermaet, Sagan, Van Aert and Colbrelli (once). So for Girmay to be a good pick, you are basically banking on him being among the top 3 classics riders of his generation. It's not impossible, but I don't see why you would take that gamble when you can pick Roglic, Ayuso or Almeida instead.
 
SCHMID Mauro
1​
SERRANO RODRIGUEZ Gonzalo
1​
BONNAMOUR Franck
1​
BERTHET Clément
1​
BAYER Tobias
1​
MEEUS Jordi
2​
LEEMREIZE Gijs
3​
BARRE Louis
3​
MILESI Lorenzo
3​
VAN DIJKE Mick
4​
CALMEJANE Lilian
4​
BISSEGGER Stefan
5​

These are my rare picks including 5 unique, my most expensive pick, and only a couple of cheap flyers so my team's success (or more likely otherwise) hangs on most of these

Schmid wasn't really on my radar initially but I forgot how young he still is and it was quite late when he got picked up by Quickstep. Looks a good all-rounder and still open to plenty of improvement.
Meeus gives me some vibes of Ackermann from a few years back.
Bissegger was a tempting pick last year but I passed in the end. He had some blunders but he's starting to get stronger all-round and might be interesting in Paris-Roubaix and flatter stage races.
Serrano is an older rider who has shown flashes of top class without really putting it together in a season. Without Valverde, Movistar need him to step up and be one of their best riders.
Van Dijke I had last year and he was making good progress by the end of the season.
Calmejane looks a typical Wanty pick-up who still retains ability and should score well in domestic races.
Leemreize probably has one shot for this game before he either becomes a star or more likely becomes a GT domestique like say Oomen.
Bonnamour was obviously way too good for his team before their demise - the question is whether he'll be at the back of the queue for opportunities at Ag2R after his late signing. Bit of a gamble.
Berthet on the other hand is an unexciting high floor, low ceiling pick who will get 250-300 points. Probably needed to re-think that one in retrospect.
Bayer is a bit of a mystery - not really sure he is or what to expect. He has some climbing results and some sprinting results. In part I picked him because I wanted someone from that team.
 
So why not join in with the team self-analysis?

I've broadly got 4 categories:

The ones everyone picked (Alaphilippe, Bernal, Schachmann, Asgreen, Pidcock)

The should bounce back ones (Haig, Stuyven, Lutsenko, Halvorsen)

The youngsters who should kick on (Honore, Martinez, L Hayter, Mihkels, Uijtdebroeks, Van Uden)

And then there's the interesting, less popular picks...

ANDERSEN Søren Kragh (10 picks) - undoubtedly talented, has had a team change and will get more opportunities. Could become the Devolder to MVP's Boonen.

LAMPAERT Yves (10) - Another cobbler - just feels like he should be a 700+ rider, for only 397 it made sense.

HAGENES Per Strand (7), ASKEY Lewis (6) - youngsters who I don't know much about, but seem to have some good indicators.

GANNA Filippo (7) - Now that he's got that hour record he'll be focussing much more on the road again. Could go well some cobbled races and obviously ITTs - feels like a minimum 650 point rider.

GROSU Eduard-Michael (1) - When I picked him I didn't spot that he had no team for the year(!) - must have missed something there. Always nice to have a cheap lower tier sprinter - I hope he gets a ride at some level.

MOSCA Jacopo (1) - cheap and the type of rider who only needs one or two good days in breakaways to jump up a bunch of points.

PEDERSEN Rasmus Søjberg (1) - pick a cheap youngster

KOOIJ Olav (4) - one of my two big gambles. This kid has wheels (literally but more importantly metaphorically) - and if he gets given an opportunity to ride a few bigger races this year could kick on and really be one of the top sprinters. On Jumbo it's a long shot I guess, but I like him and it will be fun to cheer for him.

Mollema (1) - he has consistently been a 1,000 point rider for most of his career. He's good in a bunch of one-day races and can ride a good GC. I don't see a whole bunch of Trek riders ahead of him in the pecking order for any of the races he can well in, so I think he could really get back up to previous levels.

Overall some big gambles (which I don't usually do and live to regret), some good youngsters (which I've often missed out on in the past) and quite a few unpopular picks (which will mean that those guys become my riders to look out for). I always forget to scour for 0 point riders to fill out the roster - wish I knew how to find them.

Whatever the result have fun everyone and thanks Skidmark for organising again!
 
Love seeing all the different teams and rider discussions. Several riders I never considered and some that mysteriously dissappeared from my team (looking at you Schachmann ;)).

Still happy about my choices, 15 riders from the collective wisdom team and 7 of the 10 most popular. Dropped Pidcock to make room for Kwiatkowski and Padun. Opted for Romain Gregoire instead of Lenny, don't know what happened to Schachmann, somehow replaced him :confused:

Some of my rarer picks:

David Gaudu: last years winner (EITB) worded it perfectly
Honestly I felt like this was the most underwhelming crop of 600-1000 points riders I can recall but Gaudu was really the only one that stood out for me. One of these days he'll put together a season where he's good both in the classics and the GTs and he'll put up a big number. That Tour de France route isn't going to hurt either.

Gino MÄDER and Nils POLITT: Both had decent but not exceptional 2022 seasons, I expect both of them to improve quite a bit

Aurélien PARET-PEINTRE: bit of a gamble after a dissappointing 2022, lots of potential if he finds his 2021 form

Michael Valgren: Another gamble. Should return to racing in may, hoping for a decent summer/fall

Jay Vine: I'm a bit surprised only 6 others picked him. Not so happy about his move to UAE, but still expect him to score lots of points

Ben Healy: 22 years old, decent TT, decent climber and a lot of ambition.

Laurens De Plus: Not sure what to expect, but at 57 pts worth the risk.

Dries De Pooter: My only unique pick, young Belgian rider, will probably ride a lot of .1 races in Belgium and France, so plenty of opportunities to pick up points
 
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GROSU Eduard-Michael (1) - When I picked him I didn't spot that he had no team for the year(!) - must have missed something there. Always nice to have a cheap lower tier sprinter - I hope he gets a ride at some level.

as far as I know, he has a team. It's a bit odd that nothing has been announced yet (as contracts were signed back in November), but unless something went completely wrong, he should be more or less okay.
 
Interesting choice for a comparison. I have Haig but not Kelderman. But I also tried to persuade myself to take Kelderman. He's normally the kind of pick I would make, but my bigger focus on avoiding picks where there's a chance that you'll shake your head in hindsight saying 'he was obviously finished' made me not take him. His usual incredible consistency in stage races fell off a cliff last year. Could be good reasons for it, but I didn't get as far as the stage where I'd seriously investigate it. Can easily see him doubling his points, but a bit too risky.

Haig was always in my team before Kelderman anyway. I think his 3rd in the Vuelta was a complete lottery ticket, and I have absolutely no expectations of him repeating anything close. A top 5 in the Giro is the best he can dream of, and to be honest I almost expect him to not even finish the Giro. But he's normally very consistent in the one-week stage races, and usually starts the season off with a bang with some cheap 2.Pro points in Spain. A normal 2020 would likely have been a 700-ish season as well, so we can say he's had three of those in a row before getting his season halved last year. I think he's a safe pick with very little downside.

This is an interesting comparison to think about, because at least my (and I think the general) perception of these two riders is so different. Like, I'm inclined to think of Haig as a still-upcoming rider who has been bubbling under for awhile, and the GC result in Spain was confirmation of his potential. I get what you're saying Squire about the podium being a lottery ticket, but I think it's backed up more solidly than, say, Hugh Carthy, and definitely less of a lottery ticket than the De Gendts and Velits' of the GT podium world. He can top 5 any given stage race, even if his ceiling isn't blowing the roof off. He's a steady pick and only didn't make my team because I went with more expensive riders at the core.

Kelderman, on the other hand, was at the top of his age cohort since before he was a pro, and had commensurate expectations, which despite being a solid rider he's never seemed to live up to. Part of that is due to untimely (and numerous) crashes, but the perfect distillation of Kelderman's career is his Giro podium. A Giro podium sounds pretty good right? And on its face, it was equivalent to Haig's achievement, at a similar age. But because he had the lead and lost it, because it felt like he was finally going to reach his potential only to lose to two completely unproven riders (relatively speaking), I think it's cemented him as an underperformer.

Comparing those two is like one of those optical illusions; I looked up their profiles after reading this discussion and was shocked that they're only two years apart in age. So I think the perception around them has no small part in the discrepancy in their popularity in this game. Plus when choosing between a rider who I think I've already taken 3-4 times in this game and one I've never taken, novelty is the tiebreaker. Haig does have more chances as GC leader in his team, so there are some fundamentals on his side vs a rider that is on a team with 2 of the top 5 GC riders in the world, but they're more similar than I thought.
 
Surprises in the popularity table for me.

1. Marc Hirschi. This was a big one. Given the demonstrable breadth of his talent in relation to his results last year, I was shocked to see that only 3 other people have picked him. In a way, I'm glad, because, like Luke Plapp, I believe in his potential to do so much better this year (barring illness and accidents). So, what were the excuses for last year's poor return (by his standards)? Dental issue? Hip needing surgery? Hit by Covid? Well, actually, all of those. He endured a torrid Tour de France, when being tasked with the role of domestique when unfit. I know how long it took for the residual effects of covid to clear my respiratory system and allow normal training ... it was months. His late season form gave me cause for optimism. I hope he doesn't make me look a chump as I have been loyal to him in this game since his neo-pro season.

2. Sam Bennett. Another who is capable of a much better score than last year and who showed signs of returning to his best following his knee issues and an acrimonious exit from the Wolf Pack. I've never picked him before, but I still hope he repays my faith and doesn't make me see the error of my ways.

3. Leonard Kamna. Actually, I do understand why he is less popular. An obvious pick last year, much less so this year. But he has extraordinary talent and I'm pretty sure there's not much down side. However, whether he can conjure a stallar 1000 pt year remains very much with the moon and the stars. This one, as well as being another loyal pick, is more of a punt I think.
 
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I don’t see my name on the popularity list :(
Yeah I entered your team on its own tab and must have spaced on making a line for you on the rankings sheet, so I just discovered that yesterday. You're on the sheet now and will be reflected on the final popularity numbers once I make the corrections (misspellings etc) in the next day or two. Sorry about that!

Edit: Same thing with you @Googolplex! I had you in your own team tab but hadn't made a line for you in the rankings. Fixed now.