<> Fantasy Cycling Teams - 2005 <>

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 ]

* For this season's line-up Lisa has had a sweeping clear-out of her Ready Steady Riders in spite of the dominating success of last year's line-up. Surprisingly, out goes Jan Ullrich while Joseba Beloki is retained. Robbie McEwan, of course, also keeps his place but everyone else is new. The "new Cipollini", Alessandro Petacchi is the biggest new signing but Roger Hammond and Bradley McGee could bring plenty of success. Oscar Sevilla and Paolo Savoldelli may be past their peak but could be good value for money and the team is rounded out with Filippo Simeoni and Sébastien Hinault.

Steve's Nightowlers by contrast look a very familiar bunch spearheaded by Erik Zabel and Ivan Basso who were last year's only success stories. Steve brings in Alexandre Vinokourov in hopes he'll prove to be a Grand Tour contender. The ever-present Mario Cipollini returns for what must surely be his last season, and the remainder of the line-up of cheaper riders remains unchanged. To field a team almost identical to the outfit that performed so poorly last season must be something of a triumph of hope over expectation.

* The predicted lack of firepower in Steve's Nightowlers team was borne out by the results of Period One. Cipo got second place on a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and Zabel did the same in the Critérium International in which Basso took fourth overall. In contrast, Lisa's Ready Steady Riders got off to a fine start as Petacchi, beginning as he no doubt means to continue, claimed three stage wins and second overall in Tirreno-Adriatico (in which McEwan took second on one stage) followed by victory in Milano-San Remo.

* Thanks to Zabel, fourth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and Vinokourov, winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Steve's Nightowlers had reasonable success in Period Two. On the other hand, Lisa's Ready Steady Riders failed to score even a single point and are actually one point behind as the teams head towards the Giro next month.

* Several of Lisa's Ready Steady Riders made minor showings in Switzerland (Tour de Romandie) and Spain (Volta Ciclista a Catalunya) while Zabel (Rund um den Henniger Turm) and Vinokourov (Bayern-Rundfahrt) scored for Steve's Nightowlers in Germany. But for most of Period Three all eyes were on Italy, and the most exciting Giro for many years. While Petacchi, McEwan and Zabel contested the sprints, Basso and Savoldeli were our representatives for the overall. After a fine start, illness wrecked Basso's race but Savoldelli excelled throughout and provided Lisa with the first ever Grand Tour victory for either of our teams!

* Period Four was a somewhat nervous time ahead of Le Tour. In one major warm-up race, the Tour de Suise, McEwan and McGee took a stage each and the latter eighth overall for Lisa's Ready Steady Riders while in the other, the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, Vinokourov took a stage and fifth overall for Steve's Nightowlers. In their respective National Championships, on the last weekend of the period, Nightowlers Vinokourov, Scanlon and Zabel placed first, second and third.

* As ever, Period Five was coterminous with the Tour de France. Lisa's Ready Steady Riders had a decent tour with contributions from all six of her riders who took the start, headed by three stage wins and third in the points competition for McEwan plus a stage win from Giro winner Savoldeli. By contrast, Steve's Nightowlers fielded just three riders of whom only two scored signicantly but, given that those two were Basso (second overall) and Vinokourov (fifth overall plus a stage win and placings in the points and king of the mountains competitions), this was enough to net the team a haul second only to their performance in the 1999 tour when Zülle was second, Zabel took green and Cipollini won four stages in a row.

* Lisa's Ready Steady Riders took a fifteen-point lead into Period Six but, with only Hammond's second place on a stage of the Tour of Germany to their credit, surrendered the lead to Steve's Nightowlers, thanks to the efforts of Basso in the Tour of Denmark (he won four stages and took the overall victory).

* Lisa's Ready Steady Riders bounced back with a vengeance in Period Seven and have already exceeded the previous record season total which they set last year. Petacchi warmed up nicely for the World Championships by taking five stage victories and the points jersey in the Vuelta a España, assisted by McGee and (seventh overall) Sevilla, while McEwan won both Paris-Bruxelles and the GP des Fourmies. Zabel gamely stuck to Petacchi's coat-tails for Steve's Nightowlers in the Vuelta, taking four second places on stages and fifth in the points competition, but, with the opposition in such strong form, the team look set to end the season on the highest losing total to date.

* As predicted, Steve's Nightowlers ended the season on the highest losing total seen to date. Zabel's win in Paris-Tours and placings for Vinokourov and Wiggins in the Worlds Time Trial gave the team a reasonable score in the concluding Period Eight but, even with only McEwan's fourth place in Paris-Tours to show for the final period, Lisa's Ready Steady Riders were not to be overhauled.

* Looking back over the season as a whole, it was a high-scoring, ding-dong battle. Lisa's Ready Steady Riders were outscored in five of the eight periods but demonstrated a strength in depth which was the vital differentiator overall. Pettachi, McEwan and Savoldeli may have been the big hitters (and especially in their spectacular Giro) but it was the support from McGee and Sevilla that led them past Steve's higher-scoring trio of Basso, Zabel and Vinokourov who had almost no back-up. The addition of Vinokourov to the line-up of Steve's Nightowlers was a life-saver for the team that did so badly last year.

* For the first time ever, Mario Cipollini's name won't appear on the roster of Steve's Nightowlers next year. Zabel's career may be winding down but the chances are he'll feature in the line-up again, alongside Basso and Vinokourov. Wiggins looks set to be retained but Steve needs to find one more significant contibutor to give his team the depth it lacked this year.

Lisa's propensity for wholesale changes from season to season makes the shape of next year's Ready Steady Riders harder to foresee. Surely, however, Pettachni, McEwan and Savoldeli will be back as Lisa goes for an unprecedented third victory.

* 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 12   28   46 37     123 140 0.88
Erik Zabel 2 16 29 1     17 25 90 200 0.45
Marco Velo           2     2 20 0.10
Mario Cipollini 2               2 20 0.10
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano Arazabal         1   4   5 25 0.20
Bradley Wiggins               6 6 20 0.30
Charley Wegelius                 0 20 0.00
Mark Scanlon       2         2 25 0.08
Alexandre Vinokourov   26 19 19 51     10 125 80 1.56
Total 16 42 76 22 98 39 21 41 355 550 0.65

@ 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
Alessandro Petacchi 55   42       40   137 145 0.94
Robbie McEwan 2   24 3 29   40 12 110 130 0.85
Bradley McGee     2 13 4   10   29 85 0.34
Roger Hammond     2     2     4 60 0.07
Oscar Sevilla Ribera     1   3   13   17 40 0.43
Filippo Simeoni                 0 30 0.00
Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro         1   4   5 20 0.25
Paolo Savoldelli     70   17       87 20 4.35
Sébastien Hinault         1       1 20


Total 57 0 141 16 55 2 107 12 390 550 0.71

* See above for Nightowlers' results.

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