<> Fantasy Cycling Teams - 2004 <>

Last modified: Sunday, 14 August, 2016

* As has become our custom, Lisa & I will be adding to our interest in this year's professional cycling season by following the fortunes of our own fantasy cycling teams. We've been doing this since 1997. We select our teams on the basis of each rider "costing" his total UCI ranking points earned last season divided by ten and rounded to the nearest five, with a minimum cost of twenty points and a maximum of 200.  We allow each team 550 points on this basis, with nine riders to be selected. No more than two riders in each team can be selected from the same real life trade team.  Throughout the season we score our riders performances in all the major races according to the points system adapted from one used by Roger Hughes in his Fantasy Cycling League. The tables below summarise the fortunes of our teams throughout the season.

[ Period One | Period Two | Period Three | Period Four | Period Five | Period Six | Period Seven | Period Eight | Season Review | Looking Forward ]

In memorium: José María Jimenez Sastre & Marco Pantani

* For this season's line-up Lisa is clearly targeting success in the Grand Tours for her Ready Steady Riders. Out go Bartoli, Merckx and Vainsteins in favour of a recall for Tyler Hamilton (last on her roster in 2000) and newcomer Joseba Beloki to ride alongside the returning Jan Ullrich. Robbie McEwan is retained to take care of sprinting duties and Richard Virenque is expected to put on his customary climbing show in July. Christian Vandervelde and old hand Andrea Tafi return to domestique duties where they're joined by Tour stage winner Juan Antonio Flecha and Carlos Garcia (who he?).

Steve's Nightowlers yet again feature the triumvirate of Mario Cipollini, Erik Zabel and David Millar1. Ivan Basso and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano are brought in to provide additional breadth of talent. Mark Scanlon and Marco Velo are retained in support roles where they're joined by Britain's Bradley Wiggins and Charley Wegelius.

* At the end of Period One, Steve is well satisfied with his Nightowlers' start to the season. As usual this was almost entirely due to the reliability of Erik Zabel (embarrassingly second in Milano-Sanremo, he was also second on two stages in the Setmana Catalana and two stages plus third overall in Tirreno-Adriatico) but it's encouraging to see new boy Ivan Basso making a contribution right from the gun (coming 11th overall in both Paris-Nice and the Setmana Catalana). On the other hand, poor Lisa gained only a single point from the efforts of her Ready Steady Riders (at the very end of the period, Tyler Hamilton took 12th overall at the Criterium International) to log an even worse start than last year's pitiful four points.

* Period Two saw a big decline in fortunes for Steve's Nightowlers. In the absence of any contribution from Zabel, only a minor placing by Ivan Basso (8th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège) stood between the team and a big fat zero. Thanks to modest contributions from Robbie McEwan (2nd in Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen), Juan Antonio Flecha (7th in Flèche Wallone) and Tyler Hamilton (2nd on the final stage time-trail and 14th overall in the Vuelta al Pais Vasca and 9th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège), Lisa's Ready Steady Riders outscored the opposition for the period but still trail overall. Early days yet, though, with all three big tours still to come.

* Period Three features the first of the year's Grands Tours: the Giro d'Italia. Robbie McEwan featured in a few sprints there for Lisa's Ready Steady Riders before packing his bags to avoid the hills in the third week. Tyler Hamilton took a stage and the overall win in the Tour de Romandie to provide the bulk of a strong period for the team. It was in Romandie too that Steve's Nightowlers gained almost all of their meagre total for the period; thanks to Ivan Basso, seventh overall. Although well beaten again this period, the team still just has its nose in front on the season to date.

* Period Four saw two big overall results for Lisa's Ready Steady Riders in Hors Categorie stage races: Tyler Hamilton took second in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (and was second on two stages) while Jan Ullrich won the Tour de Suisse (plus stage wins on the first and last days). Robbie McEwan also won two stages in the swiss tour. All Steve's Nightowlers could muster in their turn was a second place on one stage of the Dauphiné from Ivan Basso, so they now trail by more than sixty points going into Le Tour.

* Period Five means just one thing: Le Tour de France. Both of our teams almost doubled their season total this period so the Nightowlers' deficit stretched to 111. Erik Zabel's days of dominance in the sprints seem long gone now and he failed to win a stage on his way to third in the points competition. Ivan Basso more than justified his addition to the team by taking third overall and a stage win, as well as being fourth best climber. The Ready Steady Riders fielded the best sprinter, Robbie McEwan, and the best climber, Richard Virenque. Jan Ullrich couldn't quite complete the clean sweep of the major jerseys, finishing only fourth overall.

* This year, Period Six included the Olympic Games road cycling events. In the Olympic Road Race, Erik Zabel took fourth for Steve's Nightowlers with Robbie McEwan eleventh for Lisa's Ready Steady Riders. Lisa had her revenge in the Olympic Time Trial, however, where Tyler Hamilton won the event and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano came ninth for Steve. Elsewhere, Juan Antonio Flecha won the Meisterschaft von Zürich, Ivan Basso was sixth in San Sebastian and Zabel was seventh in Hamburg as the Ready Steady Riders extended their overall lead yet further.

* Erik Zabel racked up an amazing six second-place finishes in the Vuelta a España, the major event in Period Seven, which was enough to give him the points jersey in spite of not winning a stage. In the same race, Carlos Garcia Queseda finished ninth overall for Lisa's Ready Steady Riders. Elsewhere, Juan Antonio Flecha won the Giro del Lazio, with Jan Ullrich third. Ullrich also took fifth in the Giro dell'Emilia, a race that Ivan Basso won for Steve's Nightowlers, as the Ready Steady Riders edged further ahead overall. With just one period left to go it would take an astounding set of results for Steve's team to run out final winners.

* Lisa's Ready Steady Riders rested on their laurels for Period Eight, which concluded the season's racing. There was no miracle for Steve's Nightowlers however and they ended the year more than 100 points adrift. At least Steve's team did show up for the final handful of races: Erik Zabel ended his winless season by coming second (where else???) in the World Championship Road Race. Ivan Basso was eleventh in that race and also wrapped up the season with third place in the final race of all: the Giro di Lombardia.

* Looking back over the season as a whole, Lisa's Ready Steady Riders effectively raced only six of the eight periods but still Messrs McEwan, Hamilton and Ullrich amassed a record total between them with reasonable support from Flecha. Virenque did what was expected of him in the Tour and Queseda made a contribution in the Vuelta but Tafi, Valverde and (especially) Beloki disappointed.

Basso proved a welcome addition to the ranks of Steve's Nightowlers: he and Zabel carried the whole team throughout the season but where was everybody else? No wonder the team recorded their lowest-ever overall score this year.

* Wholesale changes look likely for both our teams next season. While Steve isn't likely to let Zabel or Basso go every other spot on the Nightowlers line-up must be up for a change. Similarly, we'll surely see Ullrich and McEwan in Lisa's Ready Steady Riders next year but with Tafi, Hamilton & Virenque out of the picture there will be plenty of scope for a re-think.

* See below for Ready Steady Riders' results.

@ N i g h t o w l e r s @
Rider Period Scores Total
Cost Score
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Ivan Basso 8 5 11 2 51 8 15 20 120 75 1.60
Erik Zabel 45   2   19 18 30 24 138 200 0.69
Marco Velo     2           2 20 0.10
Mario Cipollini 2               2 50 0.04
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano Arazabal           2     2 35 0.06
Bradley Wiggins                   20  
Charley Wegelius                   20  
Mark Scanlon                   20  
David Millar1 1               1 110 0.01
Total 55 5 15 2 70 28 45 44 264 550 0.48

1Dropped from the team for doping.

@ R e a d y   S t e a d y   R i d e r s @
Rider Period Scores Total
Cost Score
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Robbie McEwan   10 16 6 41 2     75 90 0.83
Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro                   30  
Richard Virenque         25       25 55 0.45
Andrea Tafi                   20  
Tyler Hamilton 1 8 34 25 4 20 5   97 135 0.72
Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni   5     4 25 20   54 50 1.08
Carlos Garcia Queseda             19   19 25 0.76
Christian Vandervelde       2         2 20 0.10
Jan Ullrich       36 41 4 15   96 125


Total 1 23 50 69 115 51 59 0 368 550 0.67

* See above for Nightowlers' results.

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