Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France

Velominati Super Prestige: Tour de France

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The inaugural Velominati Super Prestige continues the with Tour de France edition, on Saturday July 3rd in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, just kilometers from the start of the Giro d’Italia in Amsterdam (Dutchland is a small country). This will be the second Grand Tour of the series, and at this stage the Grand Tour rules and regulations are fairly well-defined, so take a moment to review them on the VSP Page.

The Tour is, of course, a major event.  My personal preference lies with the Giro, but there is no denying the magnitude of the Tour and the appeal it holds.  For three weeks, the world pays attention to our sport, and – provided the Tour doesn’t coincide with the World Cup football matches – this is the biggest sporting event during this time of the year.  (An interesting observation: the last time these events coincided, the winner was eventually stripped of his title.)

Having run the VSP Giro edition where we tested the ruleset for Grand Tours, we’ve managed to set up a scoring system that seems fair and helps to close down the competition to afford newcomers the ability to catch up with some good picks; the Giro proved that lineup switches and the associated penalties kept the point gains pretty small while allowing strategy to play an interesting role.  There is a full overview of the rules and standing at the VSP Schedule, Rules, & Results page, but here is the ten-second overview:

Every contestant is to choose their top five General Classification picks of the race.  The final podium of le Grande Boucle is worth 15 points to the winner, 10 points for second, 5 points for third, 3 points for fourth, and 2 point for fifth.  Given the effect crashes can have on a tour, we’ve set up some guidelines around making changes to your lineup during the race: you’re allowed to change your lineup if any rider in your pick list drops out for any reason without any penalty; rest days will allow contestants to make changes to their lineup, however those changes will come at a point penalty.  (Visit the VSP Schedule, Rules, & Results page for a complete breakdown of these points.)

Every day, the leader in the points standings will have the honor of wearing the Yellow Jersey when posting on the site; the overall winner will wear the Yellow Jersey for the remainder of the season and will also earn an “Obey the Rules” bumper sticker.  All reader’s points qualify towards the final prize of the free Velominati Shop Apron.  As always, if you are inclined to enter, simply post your predictions for the top five placings.

New to the Tour de France edition is the addition of naming the winner of the Green and Polka-dot jerseys for the Tour.  There will be no points awarded towards these two jerseys, but the leader of the competition of these jerseys will have the honor of commenting with a Green or Polka-dot jersey badge throughout the competition and the winner will earn the right to comment with that badge until next year’s Tour.  The contestant who picks both the final Green and Polka jersey winners correctly will win a Velominati Logo bumper sticker.   Tie-breakers will go to the first contestant who posts their entire lineup (all 5 GC picks plus Green and Polka-dot jersey winners).  Given that this sub-competition has no points, pick substitutions will only be granted under the DNF regulations of the VSP; no rest-day substitutions are allowed.

Sub-competitions will be conducted while the Tour is underway for specific stages.  These stages will be chosen a few days prior to the stage being held and will be selected based on the current race conditions with the aim of choosing the most decisive and exciting stages of the race, so check back often to make sure you don’t miss out.  Sub-competitions will be held in separate editions.

Good luck!

// Velominati Super Prestige

  1. @frank
    Were there bonus points for predicting a top-three finisher but in the wrong order? (I had Spartacus and RatPack, but in the wrong order.)

  2. @Omar odd, I thought that this was one of the most tedious Tours of recent years. There was plenty of great racing, but the GC race was dull and got in the way of the rest of the race. The Giro was a far better race this year.

  3. @Jarvis
    the gc race dull? GC was in question until the last mountaintop finish and even (in hindsight) during the TT! What race were you watching?

  4. Was it really in doubt? Even if you take the “doubt factor”, what really happened in terms of GC? Contador attacked once. Schleck attacked once. They rode up the rest of the mountains together, hardly riveting. Tactics were predictable and conservative, no risks taken, Schleck didn’t deserve to win.

  5. Hey! Check me out: peaking in the final week!

  6. @Jarvis
    I can hardly think of anything more riveting than the two best climbers in the tour riding as hard as they can through the mist of the Tourmalet, the reason neither got a break was because they both had nothing left. They both Rule #5ed their way up that climb.

  7. @Jarvis
    There was all that talk about the Pyrenees deciding everything, but the Alps put on a pretty good show and destroyed most of the pack. If it was a little dry in the Pyrenees, it was because there were only two contenders left. I share your sense of the Tour seeming to lack fireworks, but I think it’s because it started with such fireworks from the very outset. Stages 2 and 3 were filled with drama and excitement (but I prefer the spring Classics to the summer stage races anyway).

    For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the subtleties of Schleck and Contador checking each other and I admired their consistency. It was conservative race, but to offer the other side of your statement above, I’m not sure Schleck deserved to lose, either.

  8. @Nathan @Canarypunk
    Contador didn’t Rule #5 his way up the Tourmalet, he had spare.

    Schleck was so conservative that Contador effectively had him beaten at the planning stages. Once Schleck lost that time at Mende, Contador only had to follow, but Schelck still stuck to what appeared to be a pre-determined plan. Yes the loss of Grimpeur Elder hampered the plans, but Contador didn’t have an “Older Brother” option in the first place.

    Completely outsmarted by Astana and that says alot given that it is Riis, the master tactician.

    I have a theory as to why it played out as it did and why the teams used the tactics they did. But I haven’t the time to go into it and someone else probably has already.

  9. For me this tour was more exciting than the last few years. The controversy of the first few stages coupled by the action in the alps provided for great viewing and talking points. The dropped chain will be debated by cycling fans for years to come. It was poignant that Berti beat the Grimplet by the exact time he gained on that stage. In my opinion though you can’t read too much into that. If Grimplet hadn’t dropped the chain the timegaps would have been different and the race up the Tourmalet wouldn’t have seen Berti stick to the Grimplets wheel like superglue.

    Next year will be interesting with the Brothers Grimplet on their own team. Who from Saxobank will defect across and how strong will they be compared to this years Saxo team. Astana were stronger than most would have cared to give them credit for before the tour started. Is Berti sticking with Astana next year?

    I feel sorry for the Giro as I’m sure that once again the GC favourites will be bypassing it to be fresher for the tour. As the italians say the Tour is the bigger race but the Giro is the most beautiful.

  10. @Jarvis
    Oh, I agree. But I think one of the problems was that the Tour lacked the organized chaos of the Giro. On the one hand, this had to do with better teams, but it also had to do with the attrition rate in the early going. The Tour would have been a lot more interesting—and less conservative—if Lance hadn’t crashed twenty-seven times, if Cuddles hadn’t broken his elbow, if Grimplet the Elder hadn’t crashed out, etc. Between the crashes and the Alps, the conclusion was more or less sorted by the first Alps stage. Schleck lacks the explosive climbing speed of Contador, but he claims he accelerated fifteen times on the way up the Tourmalet. It was some impressive riding, giving that he kept turning the screws, rather than just trying to blow him out of the water. As for Contador, do you blame a guy for doing what he needs to do to win? He didn’t need to win the stage; he just had to finish with Schleck. Conservative, but mission accomplished.

  11. @Canarypunk
    Interestingly, the attrition rate this year was less than in recent years – albeit that those affected were the likes of Cuddles, Grimpeur Senior, Armstrong and Farrar, rather than also-rodes, and they were generally affected reasonably early on.

    The drama of the cobbled and Stockheus stages was amazing. Of course we all wonder whether the price paid for the early drama was less drama later on. But it’s very hard to answer that question. We could argue for ages over exactly how the race might have turned out without those stages (or Chaingate, or Renshaw’s exclusion, or BigTex’s crash, or …). But I am not sure I see much to be gained from all of that. It is imponderable. As Bertie says, it’s not like mathematics.

    What I’d like to do, instead, is remember three weeks of high drama and some great riding, with tension a-plenty. That Tourmalet stage was fantastic stuff. Sure, it might’ve been even better if it involve true mano-a-mano, rather than Bertie limpetting the Grimplet. But I am not sure I would’ve been able to cope with that level of excitement. And maybe it wouldn’t have been better anyway. Maybe Bertie would’ve smoked ther Grimplet. Imponderable. Not maths.

    At the end of the day I’ve been fixated for three weeks, I’ve seen some amazing stuff, I feel quite bereft that it’s over, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

    Oh, and I’m currently on the VSP podium.

    I’m happy.

  12. @Geof
    You’re right. I was surprised how many finished the Tour. Of course, a number crossed the line as wounded warriors, and there did seem to be a number of bigger names going down. I must admit I enjoyed the Tour very much even if the Pyrenees lacked the fireworks we expected. After such a great Giro and Tour, the Vuelta has its work cut out.

    On a down note, Cuddles, Basso, Sastre, and Wiggo were poor, and Menchov was bad last year and silently good this year. I worry that the big names will look past the Giro and diminish its standing, which would be a shame because that was one hell of a race this year. Am I right in thinking that Vino—at 16th—is the highest ranked GC rider who also rode the Giro? And only he and Gadret finished in the top twenty? Not a good sign for folks hoping to be competitive in the Tour. Just thinking out loud…

  13. Jens: “It’s the 13th time I enter Paris after a long and tiring Tour de France and I have the exact same feeling every single time: goose bumps. It’s a goose bump situation. Last year I wasn’t able to go all the way with the guys but this year, I would have done the final stage on a three-wheeled bike to cross the finish line with my friends.”

    Legend – despite the jocular flirtation with recumbent riding.

    I nominate “goose bump situation” for the Lexicon.

  14. I still don’t understand why people thought the Tourmalet stage was so good. The first Tourmalet stage could have been good if the race hadn’t sat up after the first hour. Thought it was going to end up like a Giro stage. The second Tourmalet stage was just tedious and most people would have predicted how it panned out. Yes, it was impressive riding, but it wasn’t exciting.

    I’ve got theories that might explain why tactics were as they were and why racing has become about the final climb of a Tour and nothing else. But I also have four week-old twins so don’t have the time to go into it. I was going to say, go and read the Sports Scientist Blog and see what you come up with, but having just been there for the link and read the latest article about Dr Ferrari, it’s spelt out there clearly. Cleaner racing will be less exciting…

    But does that mean that tactics have to be so predictable that an idiot like me could come up with them?

  15. @Steampunk
    Re: racing the Giro and the Tour. You say that the “big names” will probably overlook the Giro in favour of the tour again, but that begs a few questions:

    Firstly, just who are the “big names” now? Let’s take a look:

    Berti: it will be interesting to see if he doubles up Grand Tours again in the future. If he’s into challenges and the record books – what he’s done so far would suggest he knows where he is now and how to make his mark on the sport – he may well feel it’s worth it just to prove a point

    Grimplet: he will clearly target the Tour and the expense of everything else and Grimpeur the Elder next year. The new team might not be able to support a Giro entry anyway.

    Cuddles: depending on how he felt his form was before the crash I will imagine will dictate whether he goes back to the Giro, or saves it for the tour and uses the Vuelta as a back-up.

    That’s it. There are no big names with any pedigree left in the peloton who have shown they are still able to get a result in the Grand Tours.

    The rest:
    Birillo: irrespective of his illness, he was only just going to scrape a top-10
    Invisible Denis: will clearly know that he isn’t able to beat Berti or Grimplet and as the tour doesn’t start in the Netherlands next year will be able to go back to riding the Giro
    Dirty Sanchez: will aim for the podium
    Syrup: Unless the route is far easier than this year will not be solely targetting the tour again – as he has already indicated. Sky may well be looking at Lokvist or Gerrans for next year anyway while developing their British GC contender – look for Peter Kennaugh to be in next years race.
    Bottle/Eggtimer: don’t make me laugh. Clearly the Astana/Bruyneel old-boy’s club were some recovery medicine short of a result this year
    Grimpeur the Elder, Nibali, VDB2: still haven’t proved themselves in grand tours
    Can-he-go: can’t go
    Krueziger, Gay-sink: can’t time-trial
    Garmin: It’ doesn’t matter who rides the Giro for them, they will provide another top-10 finish with whomever hasn’t crashed
    Sastre: no longer has the ability/will to win

    2. Perhaps the Italians will look at Basso and decide that staying at home is preferable to riding the Tour, they might at least get a result

    3. Did the Giro really lose out by not having the “big names” there?

  16. @Jarvis
    You forgot Valverde – he will be able to race in Italy by then won’t he? He should be a definite starter given he can’t go anywhere else!

    You sound very angry. Just enjoy the cycling.

  17. @Marcus
    not angry. Tired, yes, but not angry. Disappointed in how Schleck/Saxo Bank rode with a lack of adventure.

    Further to this, something myself and my velomihottie came up with seperatly, is that if you want to draw the inference that this was again a cleaner tour, then as teams get the hand of this “clean racing” so to will they become less conservative in their tactics.

    Valverde won’t be back in Italy. He’ll be back in 2012, his two-year ban was worldwide from the beginning of this year, the Italian ban was separate.

  18. Crashd’emish is a COTH. But he is a very, very, very fast COTH.

    Stage racing encourages defensive riding. You are very rarely – if ever – left in the last throw of the dice situation as in one day races where aggression at the right moment can make all the difference. But you can’t criticise the Tour for not being a spring classic.

  19. @Jarvis
    Tired and a little slow to pick up on gags about suspended Spanish cyclists…

  20. @Jarvis
    Thanks for the reference to the Sports Scientist blog. Interesting – and quite plausible that reduction in rocket fuel = reduction in repeat attacks. Also quite plausible that the riders and teams will adapt. But ultimately I guess it’s a question of what we find exciting, and that’s quite a personal thing. For me, Tourmalet #2 was rivetting, even though it did not contain (let us assume) jet-fuelled attacks. There was tension and uncertainty about what might happen, and that’s often enough to make it exciting even when not much does. Then again, I also find test cricket (sometimes) exciting, so may not be a great yardstick …

  21. @Geof
    not wanting a return to rocket-fuelled attacks, I would have hoped for a bit of creativity. Perhaps it will come in time.

    The Sports Science blog is very good, they have done a lot on the science of doping.

  22. @all
    Wow, lots of chatter since I was out of town, it will be fun to read up on what everyone’s been saying.

    Updated the VSP overall standings. Rob has lost his lead in the overall VSP, which now goes to Geof who’s consistency is starting to pay off. Steampunk gets the honor of wearing the Yellow Jersey badge for the rest of the season (I can only pray that doesn’t mean we have to suffer seeing his screen name as ‘Canarypunk’ until next July), The Dotted Jumper badge goes to Joe for the rest of the year, and – since Steampunk can’t wear both badges, the Green Jersey badge falls to Rob.

    Congrats, all!

  23. @ Frank

    Funny reading through some of the chat around last year – how come you got null pwants Frank?

    When are we kicking of the banter about this years Tour?

    My kids are counting down the days until our holiday to Portugal – they don’t understand why I’m seven days ahead on my countdown….. it’s because we’re flying out (yes, with road bikes in the hold) on Day 7 of leTour – bring it on!

  24. Alright, I know that this is LAST YEAR”S VSP for the tdf but I am fuckin’ DYING here to talk about the tdf and do not see a current thread, (Maybe I have missed it with being gone last week). Anyways: So hard to pick only five contenders for this year. Will Basso be healed and ready? Will Cuddles hold up or fold as per the last few years? Will Wiggo really show up or was 2009 a fluke? Can JVDB be as awesome as last year? What about Gesink–is he real contender? Also, no prologue. What’s up with that? Sorry Frank but I cannot hold back any longer as it is starting in just a few days and so much to talk about!!!

  25. @Buck Rogers

    Alright, I know that this is LAST YEAR”S VSP for the tdf but I am fuckin’ DYING here to talk about the tdf and do not see a current thread, (Maybe I have missed it with being gone last week). Anyways: So hard to pick only five contenders for this year. Will Basso be healed and ready? Will Cuddles hold up or fold as per the last few years? Will Wiggo really show up or was 2009 a fluke? Can JVDB be as awesome as last year? What about Gesink–is he real contender? Also, no prologue. What’s up with that? Sorry Frank but I cannot hold back any longer as it is starting in just a few days and so much to talk about!!!

    Yeah, baby! We just posted up a teaser, but the VSP will come online in the next few days – worry not, my padawan.

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