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Beware of the headbangers when playing fantasy cycling
By Bryan Jew
Karsten Kroon, Thor Hushovd and Rubens Bertogliatti, all stage winners from the 2002 Tour de France. If you had them on your fantasy cycling roster, maybe you were patting yourself on the back for your shrewd judgement in riders and their potential. More likely, you were cursing them for their wildly uneven performances, and the potential points they cost your team.
For a professional cyclist, a Tour de France stage win can make a career. But for the fantasy cycling player, the lure of a stage win can obscure some common-sense calls in filling out your roster.
Riders like Kroon, Hushovd or multiple Tour de France stage winner Erik Dekker can be tempting because of their potential to pick up a stage win, but if your fantasy cycling league’s scoring system accrues points based on each rider’s placing every day, then the “headbangers” or “donkeys” will end up doing you more harm than good.
Look at Dekker, for example. The Dutchman won three stages in 2000, and another in 2001. Last year he came close, finishing third to teammate Kroon on stage 8, and also taking a top-10 finish on stage 18. Pretty impressive, but look a little closer. Aside from those two top-10s last year, Dekker only finished in the top 50 on two other days. Fourteen times he finished outside the top 100.
On the other hand, look at the numbers for a top GC contender, ONCE’s Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. The Spaniard never came close to a stage win, but he finished in the top 50 on every single stage except one, and was 10 times in the top 25.
What about the sprinters? Using Crédit Agricole’s Stuart O’Grady as an example, you’ll find that the Aussie was in the top 25 on 11 separate occasions, including seven times in the top 10. Of course, O’Grady was predictably off in the mountains — 90th or worse on five of the six mountain stages. Bottom line is, if you’re looking for consistency, stick with the sprinters and the GC guys. Otherwise, you’ll be the one who ends up looking like a donkey.
So you think you have what it takes and you want the chance to win some great prizes? Head over to VeloNews Fantasy Cycling and give it a go.