<> Fantasy Cycling Teams - 2006 <>

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 ]

* As usual, this season's line-up of Steve's Nightowlers looks fairly familiar compared to last year. The team is spearheaded by the returning trio of Erik Zabel, Alexandre Vinokourov and Ivan Basso. Domestiques Mark Scanlon and Bradley Wiggins are also retained and former member David Millar will return from drug suspension in mid-season. Drafted in to bolster the team's chances are new boys Alejandro Valverde, Thor Hushovd and Peter van Petegem. Sadly, this year the team will have to do without the formerly ever-present Mario Cipollini.

Unusually for her, there are also a number of familiar names riding for Lisa's Ready Steady Riders. Alessandro Petacchi, Paolo Savoldelli and Robbie McEwan scored the bulk of last season's record total and are all retained with a view to repeating their successes. Also returning are Brad McGee, Roger Hammond and (surprisingly) Joseba Beloki. As she has more than once before, Lisa has drafted in the new World Champion; this year in the shape of Tom Boonen who must overcome the fabled curse of the rainbow jersey. Floyd Landis and Vladimir Karpets complete the line-up.

Again, I'm experimenting with a blog format to record blow-by-blow details of our riders' successes throughout the season. You can see here how far I lasted with the idea this year.

* Ordinarily, Steve would have been delighted for his Nightowlers to score nearly sixty points in Period One: Zabel opened the season with fifth place in Milano-Torino and took second place on two stages of Tirreno-Adriatico where Basso, who dominated the Critérium International, took seventh overall. However, their efforts were dwarfed by those of Lisa's Ready Steady Riders who more than doubled their tally with no fewer than seven of Lisa's nine riders scoring to compile a total that was easily the best Period One performance since we started. The team dominated Paris-Nice, from McGee's third place in the prologue, through three stage wins for Boonen, to Landis taking second on one stage and the overall victory; Petacchi took a stage win and two second places in Tirreno-Adriatico, a race in which McEwan took second on a stage and Savoldelli came fourth overall; In Milano-Sanremo Petacchi and Boonen were second and fourth; and Boonen won the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, where Hammond was eighth.

* Only Petacchi (third in Gent-Wevelgem) and Boonen (winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, second in Paris-Roubaix) scored for Lisa's Ready Steady Riders in Period Two, so that the team "only" added 78 points to their total. Steve's Nightowlers had a very successful Spring Classics campaign with wins from Hushovd (in Gent-Wevelgem) and new boy Valverde (in the Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège) who opened his account with a stage win and second overall in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, van Petegem's fourth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and minor places for Zabel (Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix) and Basso (Liège-Bastogne-Liège). Although just topping the Ready Steady Riders' first period score, and setting a new record for a Period 2 team score, Steve's team still couldn't overhaul their rivals and ended the period training by nineteen points.

* Last year, Savoldelli won the Giro d'Italia, thus scoring the first win by either of us in a Grand Tour. This year, he could only manage fifth overall though McEwan did bag a bunch of stage wins to boost the Ready Steady Riders' tally. The overall win this year went to Basso, riding for Steve's Nightowlers. Dominant though the Giro is, there is action elsewhere in Period Three and Valverde took third in the Tour de Romandie and Zabel was fourth in the Rund um den Henniger Turm while Karpets registered for the first time with eighth in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. The upshot of all this activity was a record single-period score for Steve, who outscored Lisa 2:1 to take a 55-point lead forward.

* As usual, Period Four was a comparatively quiet time between the excitements of the Giro and the Tour. Valverde finished the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré seventh overall for Steve's Nightowlers. Boonen won Veenendaal-Veenendaal for Lisa's Ready Steady Riders, for whom Karpets took ninth overall in the Tour de Suisse. In winning the period, Lisa cut Steve's lead to 35 points going into the Tour.

* Period Five produced shocks even before the racing in the Tour de France began as Steve lost two potential GC contenders, Basso and Vinokourov to a doping scandal that also put Beloki out of the race for Lisa.

Once the race got under way things went well: Hushovd won the first and last stages for Steve's Nightowlers and regained his yellow jersey by taking third on stage two while Zabel had two third places and a fourth (on the Champs Elysées) to his credit and these two were second and third in the points competition; first place in the points competition went to Lisa's Ready Steady Riders, courtesy of McEwan who won three stages and took three seconds (including the final stage) and a fourth, while Boonen wore the yellow jersey and clocked up six minor places on stages. The star of Lisa's team was, of course, Landis: winner of a stage (plus four minor placings), multiple regainer of the yellow jersey, second in the Mountains competition and winner overall; a new hero for us all in the post-Armstrong era.

The only problem was that Landis failed a dope test during the tour and will probably be stripped of his win, casting the darkest cloud yet over the sport; our "new hero" became a total zero less than a week after his supposed triumph.

* The world of cycling went through the motions in something of a daze during Period Six after the doping shocks of the last few weeks. Lisa's Ready Steady Riders had a quiet time with only Boonen's three stage wins and thirteenth overall in the Eneco Tour of Benelux to their credit. For Steve's Nightowlers, Zabel scored the bulk of the points, with second place in the Vattenfall (ex-HEW) Cyclassics Cup plus two seconds and two third places on stages in the Deutschland tour, while Valverde took eighth in the Classica Ciclista San Sebastian.

* For Steve's Nightowlers, Period Seven was all about the Vuelta a España where they racked up an amazing 226 points. We completed a clean sweep of the Grand Tours between us with Vinokourov's win in Madrid, with Valverde close behind in second overall. On his way to victory, Vinokourov won three stages and took a brace each of seconds and thirds. He was also fifth in the mountains competition. Valverde managed just one stage win, three seconds, two thirds and two fourths in stages, wore the leader's jersey for a few days and was third best climber overall. Millar chipped in with a single stage win. Zabel won two stages (including the last day) and took two thirds and two fourths while Hushovd won one, took five seconds and two fourths and wore the leader's jersey for a while. The team's haul was bulked out with their domination of the points competition: won by Hushovd, with Vinokourov second, Valverde third and Zabel fifth. With McEwan missing the time cut on a stage after scoring just one fourth place, and Petacchi putting himself out with a self-inflicted hand injury after taking one third and a fourth, Lisa's Ready Steady Riders had to rely entirely on the efforts of Karpets, who took a second and a fourth on his way to eighth overall, for points in the Vuelta. Outside of the Vuelta, Lisa's riders had more success: McEwan and Boonen took the top two places in Paris-Bruxelles and the following day McEwan managed fourth in the GP des Fourmies. With Steve's riders scoring more in one race than the Ready Steady Riders once managed in an entire season, it's no surprise that they enter the last period of the season with a seemingly unassailable 98-point lead.

Of course, we now wait anxiously to see if Vinokourov can break the run of tour winners who are subsequently tainted with doping scandals.

* Lisa's Ready Steady Riders finished the season tamely in Period Eight with only McEwan and Boonen's fifth and ninth places respectively in the World Championship Road Race to add to their total. Steve's Nightowlers finished a little stronger with Vinokourov, third in the World Championship Time Trial, and Hushovd, fourth in Paris-Tours, backing up Zabel and Valverde's second and third places in the World Championship Road Race.

* The season as a whole was overshadowed by doping scandals which inflicted much serious damage on the sport we love so much. Aside from that, in our private fantasy world, it was a bonanza year for scoring. Only time will tell if this was a fluke, or a side effect of the replacement of ranking points with Pro Tour points to determine rider costs. It was a see-saw season, with Lisa's Ready Steady Riders starting stronger, losing the lead to Steve's Nightowlers in the Giro d'Italia, only to regain it in the Tour de France and then loose it for good in the Vuelta a España. Boonen was far and away Lisa's most successful rider and McEwan scored highly as usual while Landis's total was almost all accounted for by his Tour results, Pettachi had a surprisingly quiet season, and Savoldelli and Karpets made modest contributions. Steve's star performer was new-boy Valverde with major support in the first half of the year from Basso and throughout the season from Hushovd and Zabel (the only rider on either team to score in every single period) while Vinokourov was invisible until his Vuelta win.

* Next year's line ups look set to be as much influenced by doping cases as by sporting results with major question marks hanging over the careers of both Landis and Basso. Steve will hope to be able to afford to retain the services of Valverde, Vinokourov, Hushovd and Zabel for his Nightowlers and will doubtless keep Wiggins and Millar for sentimental reasons which may not leave him with much scope for bringing in major new talent. Lisa's selection of Boonen was a huge success so he looks certain to spearhead her Ready Steady Riders again alongside old favoourite McEwan but it remains to be seen if she has the patience to retain Pettachi in particular among her less stellar performers.

* 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 Basso2 41 3 95  


85 1.64
Erik Zabel 11 3 13 2 15 24 19 24 111 85 1.31
Alejandro Valverde Belmonte   77 25 11   5 72 18 208 85 2.45
Thor Hushovd 4 25 12 3 34   39 12 129 65 1.98
Peter van Petegem 2 12             14 35 0.40
Bradley Wiggins                 0 20 0.00
David Millar1
    5   5 20 0.25
Mark Scanlon                 0 20 0.00
Alexandre Vinokourov             91 15 106 135 0.79


120 145 16 49 29 226 69 712 550 1.29

1 Millar banned for doping until Period 5.
2 Basso suspended, on suspicion of doping, from Period 5 on.

@ 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 25 15 1       3   44 130 0.34
Robbie McEwan 2   19   46   30 12 109 40 2.73
Bradley McGee 1   4           5 20 0.25
Roger Hammond 3     2         5 20 0.25
Tom Boonen 41 63   25 19 12 14 7 181 170 1.06
Vladimir Karpets     10 7     14   31 30 1.03
Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro                 0 20 0.00
Paolo Savoldelli 15   37           52 90 0.58
Floyd Landis1 32     2 103 137 30 4.57
Total 119 78 71 36 168 12 61 19 564 550 1.03

1 Landis banned for doping during Period 5.

* See above for Nightowlers' results.

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