Thursday, 3 May 2012

Fantasy Giro d'Italia 2012 Predictions’s Fantasy Cycling competition has been keeping me amused this season, despite a somewhat rocky start. I didn’t initially realise that there was a purists league for those who want to pick a nine person team for each race and see how it fairs. Consequently, I did what I assumed everyone else was doing, and made changes every day, ruling myself out of the purists league.
I then discovered that purist racing existed and, seeing as how it appeals to me more, I stopped making changes stage by stage, essentially hobbling myself in the non-purists leagues. (And that’s before you even get to my failure to realise that the Spring Classics were treated as one stage race rather than several separate one-day races.)
This string of kerfuffles has taught me two things. One, that I should read the rules before getting started and two, it doesn’t matter. Seriously, even though I’ve blundered my way out of contention in the purists overall, non-purists overall, and the non-purists stage by stage competitions, simple race-by-race play is enough to keep me entertained.
Having said that, I fear their rider valuations may be a little low for the upcoming Giro d’Italia. Normally you have to work quite hard to create a balanced team built around a strong contender. Not this time. Seriously, look at my Giro team:
Ivan Basso
Jose Rujano
Michele Scarponi
Marzio Bruseghin
Taylor Phinney
Francesco Chicchi
Domenico Pozzovivo
Andrea Guardini
Gabriel Rasch.
Phinney’s aiming at the Prologue, Guardini and Chicci should be worth at least one stage win, Pozzovivo and Bruseghin could both end up in the Top Ten, Rujano may compete for the overall, and will almost certainly score points in the mountains, and Basso and Scarponi are the two most likely picks to win the overall. Granted, 36 year old Gabriel Rasch is approaching his last hurrah, but even he can be often be counted on to get a bit of TV time, which will earn Fantasy League points.
Of course, lots of players will have built their team around Cav’s pursuit of stage wins, or will have Rodriguez instead of either Basso or Scarponi, but those people will be looking at their teams the same way I’m looking at mine-an astonishing collection of points scoring talent. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out.
I’ve a sneaking feeling that the first selection amongst the fantasy teams won’t be down to a rider doing well, it’ll be down to one of the favourites having a bad spell and sinking all the fantasy teams he’s in. I’m sorry to say it, as I love watching Joaquim Rodriguez rocket off the front on the short, nasty climbs, but Liquigas have beaten both Lampre and Katusha in the last three grand tour team time trials, while Lampre have beaten Katusha in two out of three. It’s hard not to assume that Rodriguez will have a real deficit to make up on Basso and Scarponi before the first week is over. Let’s see....

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