Friday, April 23, 2010
In this Rouleur Derby Report:
1. The spring classics close
2. Upcoming tours and stage races
1. THE SPRING CLASSICS CLOSE
The early classics were nothing short of extraordinary. Fabian Cancellara proved he could win whenever he wanted, attacking from wherever he wanted. Truly we were treated to one of the most dominant displays of strength in cycling history.
But in retrospect, those races seem a little ... boring?
This week the action has shifted to the Ardennes and we've enjoyed two very exciting finishes with Sunday's Amstel Gold and Wednesday's Fleche-Wallone. There was no clear favorite in either race, and going into the final kilometers dozens of riders were still in contention, and it was thrilling Wednesday to see Contador, Kloden and Anton try to punch free on the Mur de Huy, only to be overcome by the patient Cadel Evans, the world champion. (See the finish here in the original Flemish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU-kNDQuiIo .)
Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege is shaping up to be a similar race. It's totally up for grabs. Valverde. Gilbert. Schleck. The other Schleck. Who will have the strongest punch at the end?
That parity is reflected in the odds chart, which at this momement has only Philippe Gilbert and Juaquim Rodriguez in single digits. We haven't had a double-digit payout since Oscar Freire won Milan-Sanremo, so Liege-Bastogne-Liege could tip the leaderboard considerably, especially since there will be a 25 percent monument bonus for players who pick the winner.
We also have an array of propositions and match-ups that focus on our favorite North American riders. Will Chris Horner make it three in a row and finish in the top 10? Will rookie Cheesehead Matt Busche finish in the top 100 in his first classic? Will Horner be able to hose the hoser Hesjedal? (They split the first two Ardennes classics.)
2. UPCOMING TOURS AND STAGE RACES
In New Mexico, the Tour of the Gila starts Thursday. Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Jason McCartney will represent Team RadioShack under the Team Mellow Johnny's flag. Will they win? Keep in mind that in addition to the domestic teams, they'll be battling a Garmin-Transitions squad doing business as DZ Nutz.
I think that will be the only action I'll have on the Gila, but I'll have men's and women's propositions available for the following week's Joe Martin Stage Race. You can use the Gila to gauge who will be on form for that.
And then we'll have the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of California. For the Giro and the other grand tours, we'll have a contest within the contest. I will have a separate leaderboard for whoever does best during the over the three weeks. Since the richer players obviously have more potential for winning points, this leaderboard will be based on return-on-investment, requiring a minimum number of bets. Stay tuned!
Also to be filed under "stay tuned": I've been traveling quite a bit over the last month. Happily the system has run smoothly, but I haven't had the time to make many improvements or add new features. Now that things have settled down, I hope I can devote some more time late nights and early mornings into improving the Rouleur Derby experience.
Of course, nothing will improve the experience more than having more players, so continue to spread the word to your friends and teammates.
Play well, have fun, tell a friend,