Velominati Super Prestige: la Vuelta a Espana

The inaugural Velominati Super Prestige continues with its the final Grand Tour of the season, la Vuelta a España, on Saturday, August 28. This will be the final opportunity for contestants to rake in a load of points; and with the list of injuries, and non-starts together with riders using the race as preparation for the World Championships in October, it will make it all the more challenging to pull together some good picks.

This particular Grand Tour is simultaneously the most boring and most exciting; various sections of Spain features desert with dead-straight roads where little is to be seen aside from a colorful peloton gliding along a road for 6 hours.  On the other hand, the mountains are steep and brutal, and the weather this time of year can be atrocious, so the mountain stages tend to showcase fireworks like we don’t see elsewhere during the season.

Having run the VSP Giro and Tour editions where we tested the ruleset for picks, and I think by this time 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. 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 la Vuelta 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, there are 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 Golden Jersey when posting on the site; the overall winner will wear the Golden 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 Artisan’s Shroud.  As always, if you are inclined to enter, simply post your predictions for the top five placings.

Continuing with our jersey picks from the Tour de France edition is the competition of naming the winner of the points and climber’s jersey winners.  There will be no points awarded towards these two jerseys, but the leader of the competition will have the honor of commenting with associated jersey badge throughout the competition and the winner will earn the right to comment with that badge until next year’s race.  The contestant who picks both the final points and climbers 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 points and climbers  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 Vuelta 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!

Rules and results are posted Velominati Super Prestige page.

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246 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: la Vuelta a Espana”

  1. I only mention shaved legs because it’s easy to pick on and I’m in violation (for now). Before I stepped off my bike in 1997, (I only took a 13 year hiatus, I’m back now, I promise) I had spent more of my life shorn than unshorn.

  2. @all

    No changes in the VSP. Althought I was glad to see my boy Le Grand Frere Grimpeur stay with the bunch today. His plan to peak later in the race may work out well, ala Basso at the Giro. If he’s within 2 minutes entering the first rest day, we should be in pretty good shape.

  3. As I have mentioned before. I’d rather be good-looking and shit, than a great bike racer and ugly.

    Good-looking and ugly refers to style in this context

  4. @frank
    it is unlikely that I’ll achieve that statue again, but I think that for a while I managed to carry it off.

  5. @Hawkeye
    I’m copping the penalty for swaps and punting Menchov and Kreuziger for Anton (3rd) and Rochey (4th).

    It is going to be a shit-off in the TT late in this race – JRod already has lost out big on an hour-long TT late in a Grandy this year, and I can’t imagine Anton being any chop either. Nibbles just needs to not get dropped by them and his mediocre TT skills will shred the legs off them!

    And the Assos Guy is clearly riding a Speederbike. If you have one of those whiz-bang HD3D consoles and listen closely, you can even hear him making the sound they made while roaring through the forests of Endor at ludicrous speed.

  6. Okay, usually I let ’em ride but that strategy hasn’t worked for me (actually, it’s usually that I’m on trail for rest days with no computer). So, I’ll switch up my ponies, take my lumps, and move on. I knew better than to pick Sastrefier anyway, serves my ass right.
    I’m keeping my top three for win/place/show. Munchlove still has an outside shot I think but damn if I don’t love Garmin and their darkhorses. Is this Mr. Turtleneck Sweater’s gift, coaching good riders to have great one-off rides? And what of senor Tondo? Here’s his riding tip for the “average cyclist” from his profile page on the CTT website: “Enjoy the bicycle safely, and with respect for the environment. And look for a group of friends to share good moments on the bicycle.” Isn’t that nice and altruistic, he even looks like Sastre.

    1. F. Grimp
    2. Nibali
    3. Jo-keem Rodriguez
    4. Danielson for Menchov
    5. Tondo for Sastre

  7. Rest day replacements.

    1. Nibali
    2. F.Grimp
    3. A.GrimpAnton
    4. Invisible Denis
    5. J Rod

    I assume, that moving a rider from say 5th, like J-Rod in my choices, to 2nd, would constitute a replacement?

  8. I’m standing pat for now (mostly because I’m on vacation and too busy relaxing to study my picks)

    Vive le Grimp!

  9. Almost forgot. Since Ali Jet scraped himself up, abandoned, and is on his way home to answer more doping allegations, I gotsta pick T-bone for the points.

  10. @ben
    You know what I would have loved? If he would have said, “Well…shit. We were just doing research to see which beer to put in our bidons for tomorrow.”

    It is both surprising and inevitable that Riis doesn’t have the vision to allow this. Getting hammered at night? Against team rules. Beer in the bidon? Performance boosting. The science is solid.

    Get your Grimpito substitutions in today. Piti Principle applies heavily since he was 77th on GC.

  11. @Cyclops
    Well, he isn’t riding. He isn’t even in Spain!

    Actually, I’m of mixed minds about this. On the one hand, it really does sound like sour grapes to be so harsh. On the other, these are apparently team rules and, if so, I’m pretty sure Grimpito wasn’t drinking at the Tour. In all, it’s a bit of sad end for what was my favorite team of 2010…

  12. @Jarvis, @Roberto Marques
    I’ve decided to split the difference with you guys on your subs. Technically, Schleck was so far out of contention that it doesn’t seem right to give you a free change-out based on his removal from the race, but on the other hand, it doesn’t seem fair to charge you a full 2 point penalty for the changes.

    Sound fair?

  13. @all

    Marcus takes the lead today in the three-way tie-breaker based on his entering the picks first. Ben takes over in the sprints competition, and Marcus also holds the lead in the spotted jumper comp, so that jersey still falls to Sgt.

    1 Brett 15 points
    2 Marcus 6 points
    3 Ben 6 points
    4 Cyclops 6 points
    5 Roberto Marques 3 points
    6 Jarvis 2 points
    7 Geof 2 points
    8 Steampunk 2 points
    9 KitCarson 2 points
    13 Andy 2 points
    10 Hawkeye 2 points
    11 Nathan Edwards 1 point
    12 Frank 1 point
    14 Marko 0 points
    15 Minion 0 points
    16 Sgt 0 points
    17 John 0 points

    You can double-check my math here.

    UPDATED: @Jarvis, @Roberto Marques: I’ve gone ahead and given you your Grimplet swaps for free.

  14. Ok, so I just woke up to the Schleck news…

    Please substitute J-Rod for the pisshead.

    And I expect NO penalty for this, as I hadn’t changed him on the rest day, and was confident he would make up the 20 minutes in the mountains, or withdraw before rest day 2. Tactical nous, you see… the fact that he was removed is out of my hands, and therefore without penalty.

    Thanks Stuey, the cheque is in the mail.

  15. At risk of invoking the wrath of the keepers and other velominati, I want to pick up where Michael left off and revisit compact cranksets. Please treat it as a learning experience for both myself and other younglings with similar doubts.

    I confess, I run a 50/34 with a 12 – 27 rear cassette. 90% of the time my cadence is between 85 and 100, and – althought I teeter between being too fat to climb and being someone who climbs well for his weight – I ride for the challenge of doing big climbs, and like nothing better than seeking out the pain that comes when the road rears up and smacks me in the face for long periods of time and the sweet, sweet ecstasy of reaching that point just before my lungs just stop working and holding it there.

    On flats / descents, I rarely top out in 50×12, and on long steep climbs, fully use my lower-end range at a cadence of 50 to 60-ish (Ventoux in 34×29, average heart rate 174; Tourmalet 34×27, average heart rate a little better at 165 albeit with another 9months of experience / training). If I were to switch out to, say, a 52/39 crankset… to get the equivalent gearing, I’d need like a 33 on the rear cassette (according to Sheldon Brown calculator)? which IMO just looks wrong (not to mention, a hazard in a crosswind). Yes, you’ll all say, but just HTFU and get used to riding a bigger gear – why not do the Alpe on a 39×22 (fuck it, why not stay on the big ring all the way up?). Well…. yes and no. It would be great if I could. But I’ve been working at upping my power for 3 years now, and I’m getting stronger, but not the 20-30% stronger I’d need to be able to miss out on the bottom two gears I’ve currently got, and nowhere near what I’d need to do to carry off a 24 / 25 max chainring on rear cassette which I think is what the Velominati aesthetic would recommend.

    I seem to recall Tyler H winning a great 100km+ breakaway in 2003 (04?)using a compact (average cadence 116 apparaently) – and yes, he’s completely mad and a psycho to boot (and he was nursing a broken collarbone at the time, grinding 14 of his teeth down to stumps in the process), but I also believe that Bertie used an SRAM Compact on some of the mountain stages in 2009 (although can’t confirm)… so whilst there is no historical pedigree, in more modern times, the pro-peloton are beginning to use them.

    So educate me: a) what is it that so isn’t stylish? (if you see a guy with a nice bike that is the wrong size for him, he looks like a douche… why not the same with gears – picture aforesaid cyclist, well turned out on a great looking bike (matching bars, saddle, tyres, frame; fully squared away; slammed-down headset, etc.) climbing a rather genteel slope at a cadence of, say, 9?) and b) how do I overcome the gearing difference on the lower end if I were to switch (on my path to true enlightenment)?

  16. The 34 makes it look like a granny-ring as well as the ratio between the inner and outer rings being unsightly.

    Bertie used a compact out of necessity. I live in a hilly area and when I was riding a borrowed bike with a compact I found that the only times I needed the inner ring was on really steep hills – say <10%. I was two months from peaking, therefore this goes to show that compacts aren't necessary

    See above for over-coming the gearing difference at the lower end.

    Common mis-conception is that by having lower gears this allows you to spin faster up the hills. What happens is that you go slower. To be able to spin up hills means you need to be incredibly fit and unless you have 20km 20% hills, you'll be grinding up them like everyone else. To be fit enough to spin up hills, first you must grind up them for months on end

  17. I switched to a compact crank this year and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. My knees love me long time now. Also, I may be lighter (by ten pounds) and in better shape than I was last year but I’m doing the local 10km climb about six minutes faster than I was last year. I don’t think that large of a time difference is solely based on fitness/weight.

    This is the way I look at it. The top cyclists in the world that are at a level that is exponentially higher than me run a regular crankset. They also averaged over 46kph for three weeks over 3600km the last year that Lance Livewrong won the maillot jaune. Does running a regular crankset make this 49 year old Cat V a stud? Not when I probably average around 200 watts on the average ride and the pros are averaging 400 or better.

    Besides, I can spin a 50×12 up to 72kph (but not for very long) when motor-pacing so I can go plenty fast on a compact.

  18. Did I mention I actually don’t run a compact crankset :P Anyhow, I think the compact crankset should be used only when necessary. “When necessary” can be defined as always for some. For me it’s going to be on the winter bike / cyclocross bike / the bike I want to use when I want to go easy or do a recovery ride. I’m in Portland and we have some good 5-6km climbs here and when I raced I used a 39 or 42 x 24 for training. It was more than adequate 99% of the time. 13 years later, it’s not cutting it, but neither am I.

    I will install one in the next few weeks and if by June, I haven’t lost 5 kilos and can handle the 34×21, I’ll keep it. But ttytt, I actually looked at a 34×50 today and it does look lame. I think 34×44 on the cross bike looks just fine.

  19. Here’s the deal. Lets look at the facts.

    1) FACT. Bigga look mo’ bettah. 55T vs 50T? 55T every time.
    2) FACT. The ratio between big and small ring should be as close to 75% as possible. That means 53/39T is sexy, 50x34T is not.
    3) POSTULATE. Bigger rings offer a better mechanical advantage over smaller rings.
    4) FACT. Being over-geared means you will go slower. Fabian put it in a gear less and went steady up with more speed than Boonen, who was overgeared.
    5) Rule #10. It never gets easier, you just go faster. That means the harder you work at it, the better you get at avoiding the situation outlined in 4.
    6) POSTULATE. When not riding a bloc, your body will fall into it’s “natural rhythm”. That means that if your body feels good at 60rpm, you will settle into that cadence on a long grinder. Thus, if you’re in a smaller gear, you will go slower (you’ll just settle into the same cadence, but at a lower speed.)
    7) FACT. Deer flies can go up to 12kmph. You better ride faster than that or you will hate climbing in the Pyrenees.
    8) CORRELATION. Being over geared and knee injuries tend to go hand-in-hand.
    9) #1 priority is to ride your bike and enjoy it

    I think that pretty much sums up why there’s no Rule for this. We’re not going to tell anyone to risk injury and not be able to ride their bikes. But, you better well realize that a compact will never look as good as a big boy crankset, fucktards.

  20. @frank
    Think I understand. Is the logical extension of this to make a quick seatpost adjustment at all stops in order to produce a maximal Saddle Handlebar Height Differential (known as Your SHHD Factor?).

  21. @frank I’d have to agree with Frank’s “No. 6 Postulate.” I found that when I switched to trying to ride up my local mountain with a 39/27 I really hated it because my cadence was about the same, it wasn’t any easier, and I just went about 3-5kph slower, which prolonged the sucking. Now I generally do the same climb with a 39/21 and there might be a tad more suffering, the cadence drops very little, but I go faster and therefore the exercise in The V ends sooner (not that I’m trying to end my experience of The V any sooner, of course…).

  22. @Marcus
    While I appreciate your desire to get the proper SHHD, what you describe here is artificial SHHD, which is akin to doping. You must ride the noble steed as she is, and if you choose the righteous path to the 53/39 (or, 55/44, 53/42) then you must channel The V sufficiently to pull it off.

    Go on, I like where this is headed.

  23. When leaning the bike against the cafe wall post-ride, please put the chain on the big ring and small sprocket.

  24. Guess what, maths genius’s, the difference in teeth between a 53/39 and a 50/36 is, wait for it, exactly the fucking same! Yeah, amazing huh? So the whole “aesthetically unpleasing” argument is bullshit. And guess what, having a 12-27 cassette looks no better than a 11-21 or 11-23 teamed with a compact, if you need to install one to get up any hills (which most of us non-pros do).

    Frank, who the fuck runs a 55? Seriously?

    And anyway, we’ve done this argument to death elsewhere on this site, and it’s been unequivocally proven that there is no right or wrong, just more postulating. Shut the fuck up and ride your bike, in whatever gearing configuration that suits your personal needs. Kaayyy? Kaaayyy….

  25. First time I climbed Ventoux (at end of 2000 l’etape du tour) I did it in a 53/39, 11-23. I had to get off and have a “rest” about 6 times. It was nothing short of stupid but I didn’t know any better. Fitted a compact in 2004 and have never gone back. Usually ride an 11-23. Nice tight gear ratio and the 50×11 combination is big enough for my not-so-massive guns. Rules of thumb for mountainous terrain: more than 2750m of climbing, put a 12-25 on (or an 11-25, but I think this puts too many gaps at back end of the cassette), more than 3500m of climbing, think hard about 12-27. I can understand why you might want a 53/39 in a crit but otherwise I can’t see the attraction. I don’t think there is much to the argument that because you can spin more with a compact you will go slower? Just because you have a compact doesn’t mean you HAVE to ride it in the lowest gear. Isn’t it simply, for example, that if you are riding with your mate who is grinding away in the 39×25, you could put it in the 21 to get (about) the same ratio? Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be going back, esp given cost of new cranksets.

  26. @brett

    Ah! But 50×36 is aesthetically OK, but you don’t find that ratio very often. Besides, aesthetics are only part of the problem as outlined above. Seriously, who rides a 27?

    @frank @kitcarson
    #6 so much better put than me. But that is what I was getting at. You could see it with the advent of trippels, Mountain bikers looking to get a road bike were forever asking for trippels because they “needed an easier gear” to get up the hills.

  27. frank :@Marcus
    No, no,no,no,no! Your bike leaning against the cafe wall post-ride will look better with a 53/39 than with a compact.

    We ain’t got no cafes in Idaho. Even if we did I wouldn’t lean my bike against its wall. I just stuff my front wheel between the asscheeks of the guy that is kneeling on the ground from exhaustion after trying to grunt too big a gear up Teton Pass.

  28. @frank Yes, well I suppose it’s time to let the cat out of the bag, isn’t it, Frank?? The issue of the compact, and in fact any kind of improper gearing ratio (that would be compacts in general and anything above 39/25, is that it is clearly the work of the Anti-V. The Anti-V, being of course, that insidious force — opposing The V — that creeps into our unconscious and makes us act, dress, etc in ways not befitting to a Velominatus. Some examples:

    You might think of partaking in the V-Chalice BEFORE the ride, rather than after, so that the ride doesn’t manifest itself — that’s the work of the Anti-V.

    Those times you find yourself saying “yes,” when the barista asks you if you want whipped cream on your vanilla soy frappuccino.

    You feel a diabolical impulse to violate Rule #23 frequently and in a variety of fabulous colors.

    Indeed, The Anti V will sometimes disguise itself in the seductive voice of Chris Carmichael urging you to spin up that long climb with gearing not befitting to a Velominatus…but fuck that! Have nothing of it. Tell it to go back to its comfy abode!

    Need another “recovery day,” or is the tractor beam of the couch stronger than the will to suffer for a good cause? Yep, you know where that’s coming from.

    ANYTIME you feel the urge to violate The Rules – that’s the work of the Anti-V.

    So, yes, it’s supernatural and at times disconcerting, but firm your mind, reflect on The V, and say a Hail Merckx or two, and all will turn out fine in the end…

    @Brett As for the “55” I think Frank is engaging in exaggeration to create more of a dramatic “effect,” something he tends to do at times…

  29. @Jarvis that’s what so fascinating to me – even, in the past, of course, when i had a triple (only temporarily, and it was given to me, I never bought the thing, ok?), I could never bring myself to use the granny ring. It seemed like fucking torture. All forward motion slowed dramatically and I was still working hard. I don’t mountain bike, so I guess there are times when you might need it, and I suppose it’s a whole different style of riding, but those damned triples are ugly as fuck. Just last night, for example, I was walking up this steep steep hill in San Francisco, to get to my ex-hottie’s place, and this dude passes me and I’m like “Wow, good observance of The V, buddy,” but then I look at his crank and he’s got a triple and he’s riding in the fucking granny ring. Totally ruined any appreciation I had for his effort…

    Well, ok… I have a confession to make: My commute bike, a 2001 LeMelvis Zurich, is in fact, a triple…BUT I never actually use the granny ring for reasons mentioned above. I almost sold it this weekend, to rid myself of the stigma (I want an older, steel celeste bianchi with a double, ideally).

  30. Back to racing (this is a thread about racing, right?). I’m sorry we see Mosquera only once a year.

  31. I’m trying to learn Flemish by reading – though, when that fails me I hit the “Translate” button in Chrome, and I got this:

    Joaquim Rodriguez, the former leader, choked on his own generous efforts and got a knock of the hammer on the final climb to Pal.

  32. @ben
    Flemish (Dutch) is my first language. The language is rife with imagery of “knocking” and “hammers”. I guess that’s what happen when you lose almost every war you’re in.

  33. @all

    Big changes in the VSP today:

    1 Roberto Marques 17 points
    2 Steampunk 11 12 points
    3 Frank 10 points
    4 KitCarson 4 points
    5 Jarvis 3 points
    6 Marcus 2 points
    7 Geof 2 points
    8 Ben 2 points
    9 Cyclops 2 points
    13 Andy 2 points
    10 Hawkeye 2 points
    11 Brett 1 point
    12 Nathan Edwards 1 point
    14 Marko 0 points
    15 Minion 0 points
    16 Sgt 0 points
    17 John 0 points

  34. @frank
    I think I might be on 12: Nibali in 2nd, Mosquera & J-Rod in the wrong order, so 1 point each.

  35. @Steampunk
    Right you are. Missed Molotov Cocktail in there. Updated to 12pnts.

    Equally surprising is my 10 points. Didn’t see that one coming!

  36. A couple of big finishes for Grimpelder and Mosquera attacking J-Rod one more time and I’ll be pleased as punch. What the hell happened to the Silent Assassin? I decided not to change him, because I thought he was a decent ITT out of the top five. Now, I’m not so sure…

  37. @Steampunk

    What the hell happened to the Silent Assassin?

    He was silent but nonviolent.

    Who else thinks the jersey badges for the Vuelta suck? I’m going to have to work on better ones.

  38. @Nof Landrien
    Interesting rule of thumb – there are 3000m of climbing at this years World Champs, all in the last 180kms. Anyone still think its a sprinters’ course?

    A Vuelta jersey badge of any kind is better than none.

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