The 2012 Velominati Super Prestige kicks off in proper form this season with the debut of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad as part of the series. I’m tempted to stubbornly refer to this race as Het Volk, but I’ll toe the line and refer to the race by its bewildering new(ish) name.
This is a tricky race to predict because the big races in April are a funny distance away; they are close enough that riders wanting to do well there should be in good enough form to be competitive now, but far enough off that a win here could indicate a rider hitting their peak too soon.
In fact, the latter seems to be the case: riders who show brilliance here rarely shine in April when the Monuments of Vlaanderen and Roubaix are contested. De Vlaeminck, Museeuw, Van Petegem, Vandenbroucke – all champions of the Cobbled Classics and all men who never succeeded to win Het Volk/Het Nieuwsblad in the same year as either of the big cobbled classics; in fact, a cursory study of past results lists reveals only Merckx and Ballerini as being able to pull this particular double.
This timing makes Het Nieuwsblad a particularly difficult race to predict; in addition to the wily nature of any cobbled classic, the big names may not quite have the eye of the tiger while riders with an outside chance at victory in April may be focusing their early season on glory in this minor classic which covers many of the sacred roads as de Ronde.
With that we kick off the first event of the 2012 VSP; up for grabs is the personalized Velominati Shop Apron to the contestent who wins the season-long competition. Check the Main VSP page for scoring guidelines and rules. As a sidebar, we’ve also made lots of changes to the VSP engine; despite my usual nonchalant approach to production-testing, I’ve actually done my best to test the system this time around. There are, however, too many scenarios to be sure I covered them all, so I strongly encourage you to enter your picks early, knowing that you can make changes all the way up until the VSP closes. If you notice something behaving strangely, please let us know and we’ll have time to resolve the issue or let you know precisely why you’re crazy.
Picks close at 5am Pacific time on Saturday, and since last year’s VSP taught us that our readership sucks at time zone calculations (I’m looking at you, Bretto), we’ve introduced a countdown clock which should make even the most bone-headed of contestants aware of how much time they’ve got left to enter their losing picks (now I’m looking at you, Ron).
Good luck, and stand by for the VVomen’s Het Nieuwsblad VSP, scheduled to go live tomorrow.