Fantasy Cycling for Tour Downunder

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The Tour Downunder (TDU) is Australia’s own UCI recognised cycling tour event.  It’s on in South Australia, at the end of January 2014.  The TDU is the first event for the year in the UCI World Ranking Calendar.  It’s the only event in Southern Hemisphere, and draws the second biggest spectator crowd (only behind the Tour de France).

I am setting up a DTTalk Fantasy Cycling League for the TDU.   I am planning to attend TDU for the whole race and hope to post regular articles from the stage venues.

TDU Fantasy Cycling will be short, sharp and high energy.  Consider it a chance to wake up your fantasy brain cells before AFL NAB Challenge starts.  The TDU Fantasy Competition will open, with rider prices announced, around 12th January.  The actual TDU event starts on 21st January and there are only 6 stages, finishing on Australia Day 26th January.  So the whole thing will take 2 weeks.  It will be pretty full on, with 2+ trades every night during race week, but then finish before NAB Challenge AFL starts – slam, bam, thank you mam.  Get those dates into your personally preferred organisational device.

I haven’t played fantasy cycling before but I think it should be fun.  I’ve been researching various cycling fantasy options since AFL finished and I think I have found one that will be pretty good.  I like this game because it has lots of different ways to score points.  As a “Team Manager” we need to try and get our riders (i.e. sponsors logos) into the media coverage as often as possible, and this fantasy game reflects that.

Channel 9 has the broadcast rights but how much they will show is still unknown.  Irrespective of mainstream TV, there is lots of internet and social media coverage that seems more knowledgeable anyway.  Twitter coverage under the stage# is always entertaining.  If you haven’t taken much notice of pro-tour cycling before, Fantasy TDU will be a good way to take an interest, without any long term commitment.  So I think newbies should be able to sustain interest for the whole event.

I’ll try to do an article every week up until the Competition opens.  Today I’ll cover:

  • Various competitions within a tour cycle event (and some terminology),
  • The likely rules for this Fantasy Cycling game,
  • Some general strategies to start thinking about.

From next week I’ll start covering various teams and riders to see if we can pick some fantasy winners.  The starting teams and rider rosters are still being announced.  Each pro-team starts with up to 7 riders in TDU.  There are no subs if someone pulls out during the race.  This link will give you the current declared starters.

http://www.tourdownunder.com.au/start-list.htm

Australia’s major team Orica-Green Edge have confirmed to me (scoop!) that they will be a starter, but their team will be announced to suit publicity for the event.  I expect their will be 2 other Australian teams – Drapac (already announced) and Uni of South Australia (basically a composite team of young Australian riders given wildcards entries).

Various Competitions within a cycling tour event.

Pro-tour cycling makes much more sense when you understand it is primarily a promotional and branding event.  That’s where the money comes from to pay for the teams, logistics and full time riders.  The TDU leader’s jersey is coloured ochre because lots of the cash comes from the SA Tourism body and ochre is seen as an Australian colour (The Tour de France leader’s jersey is yellow because the first promoter was a sports newspaper printed on pale yellow paper).  The TDU race stages are located where pictures will look attractive to potential tourists in the TV coverage – e.g. Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.  Even through ochre is the event colour, you will never see the riders charging through the ochre desert that makes up most of S.A.

Accordingly race organisers provide several different prize categories to give teams and sponsors a range of opportunities to get their logos into the media.

  • General Classification (GC) –  This is the headline race.  The GC winner completes the whole 6 day tour course in shortest total time (including time bonuses/penalties).  The current leader in the GC wears a special leader’s jersey to mark him out – for TDU the leader’s jersey is an ochre colour (as in picture above).  The podium attendants presenting the jersey usually wear the same colour dresses as the jersey – so you can tell which prize is being presented from the pictures.
  • Stage Winner – The rider who completes that day’s ride in shortest amount of time.
  • Points (Sprint) competition – Rider with most points at the end of competition.  They get points for being in leading positions at various specific points during each stage.  The current points leader in TDU wears a blue jersey (presented by attendants in blue dresses).
  • King of Mountains (KOM) competition –  Riders get KOM points for being in leading positions over the race’s highest locations in the whole event.  The current KOM leader in TDU wears a white jersey with large green polka dots.
  • Competitive Rider – This is a subjective award to rider who the organisers believe attacked the most during the stage.  Attacking is basically charging off by yourself ahead of all the other riders to form breakaways.  Organisers want to encourage this because it makes the race more interesting.  The rider doesn’t get a jersey – usually they wear a red number tag the next day (but I’m not exactly sure how TDU does this).
  •  Young Rider – Best placed rider in GC aged under 25.  The leading young rider wears a white jersey.
  • Winning Team – Team with best aggregate time for its 4 highest ranked GC riders over all 6 stages.  The leading team is usually marked in some way also, but I will have to check how TDU does this.

 

Fantasy Cycling Rules and Scoring

The game I think looks best for us is run by road.cc a UK cycling website.  But if anyone thinks they know a better setup please post and we can look at that as well.  I’ve asked around and none of the cycling media sites (nor TDU themselves) are promoting any fantasy cycling game for TDU.  So DTTalk can claim to be the Australian centre for TDU fantasy cycling!

OK, let’s get into the detail (draft info only based on last year’s set up):

  • The actual fantasy game runs for the full year, but TDU is the first event, so everyone in rest of world will start with us.
  • There is no overall prize for the year, only prizes for each major event.  So we (and everyone else) can just play the events we want to – i.e. just TDU in AFL off-season.  But if people are keen we can resurrect our league whenever we want to e.g. for Tour de France.
  • There is no limit on league size – so I can create a DTTalk Cycling league and we can all be in it.  Accordingly no inter-league head to head matches.
  • The game will open and rules finalised around 12 January.  Then TDU is 21st to 26th Jan – 6 stages.  Likely 2 trades after each stage, i.e. every night, plus you can buy extra trades with existing points, or hold over trades but only for 1 day.  So 10+ trades in 6 days.
  • Going from rules for current year, the repricing of riders only happens after the event – so we don’t have to worry about that.  I understand this as it would be an administrative nightmare to do a full repricing every night, and then open and give players time to trade before the stage starts the next day.
  • Currency is called “credits”, and each manager’s team has a 150 credit limit, and better riders cost more credits (nothing unusual there).  Our team has 9 riders – no bench or any of that stuff.  If a rider pulls out or gets injured you just trade them.  Also no captains.  The premo riders cost 35-40 credits – so we won’t get many in our 150 cap.  Cheapest riders are 3 credits.  Finding cheap riders who could score will be important for our teams.
  • There are lots of ways riders can score points (and they can also get team points), but we can only ever have 2 riders from same team.  So trading will still be reasonably strategic – get rid of duds, swap to riders suited to terrain for next day, but still trying to keep 2 riders in teams likely to win stage.
  • There is no cost for us to play the basic fantasy game.  There is a premium option if anyone is interested in that.
  • I’ll try and rustle up some sort of cycling related prize for the DTTalk Cycling League winner (more about that later).

Relevant excepts from … http://fantasy.road.cc/howto ……. (NB: for 2013 only).

The basics

You pick a team of nine riders to compete in various races over the year. You score points based on how well they do over the season. You can change your team along the way to pick the best riders for the different races.

Getting started

First, you need to register on road.cc, if you haven’t already. Then you’ll need to come back to the game and set up your team. If you’re logged in to the main site, the game should set your account up automatically. You can choose a team name when you first log in, and you can change it at any time by clicking on [my account] in the top bar when you’re logged in.

Your team and different types of rider

Your team consists of nine riders. The riders in the game are classified as star riders and domestiques. You can pick any nine riders within your game budget of 150 credits, but only two riders from any one team.

The star riders are the stars of the professional teams. They fall into four categories:

  • General Classification (GC) riders are the ones best equipped to do well overall in the longer, multi-stage races. They tend to be good at everything, with an emphasis on climbing and time trialling, which are the disciplines that allow you to gain most time over your rivals in a big tour.
  • Sprinters (PC, or Points Classification) are the men to back on flat stages where there’s likely to be a bunch sprint.
  • Climbers (KM, or King of the Mountains) will come to the fore on the hilly stages.
  • All rounders (AR) are good at everything. They’re certainly capable of winning individual tour stages, and one-day races.

The Domestiques (DS)are the workhorses of the peloton. Their role is to support the star riders from their team. They also tend to make up the breakaway groups that are a feature of all professional bike racing.

The different types of stage

Stages are categorised in the game as follows:

  • FL – flat stages; these normally (but not always) favour the sprinters. Some smaller climbs.
  • MM – medium mountains; lumpy stages with lots of climbing but smaller categorised climbs
  • HM – high mountains; over at least two high categorised climbs, and often more
  • SF – summit finish; the last categorised climb ends at the finish line. Normally one for the big GC guys
  • IT – individual time trial; single riders against the clock. Check the profile; some ITs are flat, some very hilly or a summit finish.
  • TT – team time trial; the whole team goes at once and the time is normally taken at the fifth rider over the line.

How a rider’s type and value is calculated

Each rider is classified and valued for a competition based on their game scores from the past 12 months. Their values are weighted based on the type of competition; for example sprinters will be more expensive in competitions with a high proportion of flat stages.

The basic classification criteria are:

  • GC – top ranked riders to 60% or more points from high mountain stages, summit finishes and individual time trials
  • PC – highly ranked riders with 60% or more points from flat stages
  • KM – highly ranked riders with 50% or more points from high mountain stages and summit finishes
  • AR – other highly ranked riders

Rider values are calculated from a rider’s ranking based on their weighted score for a competition. All the riders from the participating teams in a competition are considered. The highest possible value is 40 credits and the lowest is 3 credits.

Scoring and gameplay

When a stage is complete, the riders will be scored according to how well they performed.

The scoring criteria change from race to race, and from stage to stage. To find out specific scoring information for a particular stage, click on stages in the top menu and click on a stage to see its information. You can also click on the scoring info link in the stage information at the top of your home page and transfer page.

Scoring information

These are the things that can be scored. Not all competitions will be scored on all criteria.

  • A top 20 finish in a stage (or top 10 in a team time trial):
    • 35, 30, 25, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the first 20 riders across the line in a multi-stage race;
    • 50, 40, 30, 25, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the first 20 riders across the line in a one-day race;
    • 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 points for each participating member of the top ten teams in a team time trial;
  • Wearing a jersey in one of the grand tours
    • 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the top ten in the general classification
    • 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the top five in the points competition
    • 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the top five in the mountains competition
    • 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the top five in the young rider competition
  • Being in a breakaway
    • 10 points for each rider in a breakaway of ten riders or less that’s more than one minute ahead of the peloton at the halfway stage in a race
  • Scoring mountains points in a stage
    • Varies from competition to competition. Default is that the maximum points available on a climb is the same as the number of scoring riders. So if five riders score, the points available in the game are 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for the first five riders
  • Scoring intermediate sprint points in a stage
    • Varies from competition to competition. Default is 6, 4, 2 points for the first three riders in each intermediate sprint
  • Being in the same team as the stage winner (or the same nationality if it’s national squads)
    • 5 points for each participating rider from the same team
  • Getting a combativity award
    • 10 points for a stage combativity award
  • Rolling in dead last on a stage.
    • 10 points for last place on a stage (note: this is last on the day, not last overall in a tour)

Scoring criteria for each competition will be posted in the run-up to each competition, and they will be available on each stage description page in the Stages list. Once a competition has started the scoring criteria will not be changed for any stage within the competition (E&OE).

During a Competition, retired riders will be removed as soon as we know they’re out of the race. They’ll be greyed out in the game.

Disqualified Riders

If a rider is disqualified or suspended then they won’t score any points for the stage in which they were disqualified. Their other points from other stages will remain in the game.

Making changes to your team

For each stage of a multi-stage competition you can make a limited number of transfers. The number of transfers available for any given stage is shown in the stages list.

Generally it’s two transfers per stage, with more on rest days and in the Spring Classics competition.

Making extra transfers: penalty points

It’ll cost you: 10 points per transfer over your limit. This penalty will be applied to your stage score. If you’ve made more than the allocated number of free transfers on any stage then your penalty points will show at the top of the page, and you’ll be asked to confirm that you wish to incur them when you complete your transfers.

Saving transfers for subsequent stages

If you don’t use all your transfers you can roll over a maximum of two to the next stage. So if you use one of two transfers, and the next stage has two free transfers, you’ll get three. But if you don’t use that extra transfer on the next day, you’ll lose it.

I messed up my transfers, can I reset them?

Not after you’ve pressed the big green Commit button, no. Press with care…

Greyed out riders

If you pick riders who subsequently retire from (or don’t start) the race then they’ll be greyed out. You can replace them using your transfers if you want. It doesn’t matter if some of your riders are greyed out for the purposes of scoring: they won’t score any points, but you’ll still score for your other riders.

Cancelled stages

If a stage of a race gets cancelled, everyone will score zero points for that stage. Any transfers you’ve made for the stage will stand. If you have incurred penalty points from extra transfers, these will still be applied to your score.

Leagues

When you score in a competition you’ll automatically be entered into a number of leagues for that competition:

  • The overall league for the competition
  • The league for the stage
  • The purist league for the competition, if you’ve elected to play as a purist
  • The regional league for the competition, based on your chosen region in your main road.cc account

As well as those leagues there are a number of season-long leagues:

  • The main overall league for your cumulative total across all competitions
  • The overall purist league if you elect to play as a purist in all competitions
  • The overall regional league
  • The stage high scores league, which is the top individual stage scores from all competitions

User leagues

You can set up your own leagues to play against your friends, or people in your office. Go to the My Team page and press the Create a new league button in the Leagues box on the right hand side.

You can make your league private; if you do, other people who join will have to be approved by you as the league creator. When they ask to join you’ll receive a notification on your leagues page.

You can also elect to make your league purist only.

If you want to join a league you’ll need to know the league ID which is a five figure number. Ask the league creator for the league ID, press the Join a league button on your team page and enter the league ID when prompted.

Prizes

The prizes for each competition will be announced before the competition starts. Generally there will be prizes for a high finish overall in a competition, and daily prizes for stage winners in the major competitions. Not all minor competitions will have prizes. Employees of Farrelly Atkinson Ltd and of sponsors of the game, and their relatives and agents, are not eligible for prizes.

You can only win one major prize (first prize for a non-premium competition) during the 2013 season, and you can only win one prize for the highest stage score in a single competition. In the event that you place first a second time in either of these scenarios, the prize will be awarded to the first player without a win, and you will be offered a runner’s up prize if one is being offered for the prize you’ve won. There’s no cash alternative for any prize offered. Prizes will be posted for free within the UK only. Overseas postage can be arranged at the winner’s expense. It is a condition of entry that you agree to join the road.cc mailing list, and the mailing lists of selected supporters of the game. None of these parties will share your email address with anyone else, and full unsubscribe details will be included with every email sent.

In the event of a tie, the following criteria, where applicable, will be used to determine the winner:

  • Highest single stage score posted within the competition
  • Most scoring riders on the stage
  • Highest scoring individual rider on the stage
  • Coin toss

Updating of the game

Scores will be posted and the game updated on the evening of the stage wherever possible. The allocation of points by the road.cc adjudicators will be deemed as final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the rider scores. Once a stage is completed the points for each rider will be shown on its corresponding stage page in the stages list

…….  End of excepts from road.cc with 2013 rules ……….

 

General Strategies – what to start thinking about

That’s a lot to digest.  Here are a few ideas to start thinking about your team:

  1. TDU isn’t hard for pro-cyclists.  The TDU has no time trials, only 6 stages, moderate hill-climbs and all stages are moderate length 2.5 to 4 hours / 90 to 150km.  The main environmental concern is potential 35-40 degree heat.
  2. Out of Season for Northern Hemisphere riders.  Our summer is off-season for Northern Hemisphere riders.  TDU has been treated a bit lightly by big European teams – they don’t always send their best GC and KOM riders.  They do treat it as good practice for their sprint trains though – so you will see the best sprinters trying to drill their lead out trains, and establish a mental advantage over their rivals.
  3. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie.  TDU is towards the end of Australian cycling season, so they are fit and at the top of their form.  Aussies also likely less bothered by the heat, particularly at end of our season.  Plus Green Edge has had their full men’s team in training in Australia since start of the month.  We need some cheap riders and I think a good source will be other Aussie teams – Drapac and Uni of SA.  Their best riders will still be cheap and will be all about getting TV time and attacking.  None of the big teams will be concerned about chasing them.  They could steal quite a few points.
  4. Spend on Sprinters, not on big name GC, KOM riders.  The course doesn’t lend itself to endurance riders either GC or KOM.  Spend your premo credits on pure sprinters or sprinters who can climb a bit.
  5. Pay Attention to Aussie lead up form.
    1. The Mitchelton Bay Cycle Classic (often referred to as BayCrits) is on around Geelong, Victoria. January 2nd to 5th.  Watch 1) Green-Edge – particularly if they can get sprinter Matt Goss firing.  Their final sprinting was pretty disappointing last year, versus 2) new Aussie pocket rocket Caleb Ewan, only aged 19 – expected to ride with Uni SA in TDU.  He has a lot of genuine go-fast about him, and stitched up the senior Green Edge riders in St.Kilda last week.  He is signed with Green-Edge junior team, but if he keeps performing better then Goss who knows what might happen.  For TDU Ewan will be fantasy cheap and has potential to sneak a stage win.
    2. Cycling Australia Road National Championships, around Ballarat, Victoria, January 8th to 12th.  Again good form guide for Aussie TDU riders from Green-Edge, Drapac, and Uni SA.

Caleb Ewan StKilda Small

Likely TDU fantasy bargain, Caleb Ewan – 19 year old, Aussie pocket-rocket, wipes floor with senior riders in St.Kilda SuperCrit last week.

That’s all for this week.  Please let me know what you think by posting below, or twitting me up on @NixTrader.  Give me a follow as I will keep tweeting info that is Fantasy TDU relevant.

3 Comments

  • Pro Cycling is a great sport to watch with so many races within races. Add fantasy to the mix and to quote BT “Wowee!”.

    This article inspired me to join DT Talk after some seasons of being only a reader.

    Love ya work Nix

    • Thanks and welcome to DTTalk,

      Agree that the more pro-tour cycling I watch, the more engrossing it becomes.

      I’m not an expert and Fantasy Cycling is going to make me take an interest in teams and riders that I haven’t thought much about previously. So feel free to provide alternate views or additional comments wherever you can.

      It would be good to take on the Brits and get some DTTalk cycling managers high up in the global tables!

  • Great work Nix!
    Always been a fan of SBS TDF fantasy comp, so this will be great! :)
    Looking forward to it.