Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A Distant Second
We take turns predicting the winners, then each of us picks a wildcard. This year we added a rule to prevent us from picking the same riders. Even when there are prohibitive favorites, for each race we pick four different riders (or teams, in the case of team time trials). When your pick to win actually does win, that’s worth 10 points. If he takes second, that’s worth 9 points, and so on through the top 10 places. Wildcards are worth half the points: if your wildcard actually wins, that’s 5. And there are no shutouts: if all four picks finish outside of the top 10, then 1 point is awarded to the “Lucky Dog” who finishes highest.
I got off to a great start in January, winning the Tour Down Under 63-41 on the strength of three stage wins from Andre Greipel. Things were still looking good through February, but in March I had a bad Paris-Nice (lost 50-27) and Criterium International (lost 22-10). The one-day Spring Classics were a toss-up.
I lost the Giro d’Italia 141-119. The overall competition was still close, but June was a disaster. Brian won the Dauphine 50-8 and the Tour de Suisse 36-12. Things looked bad for me but with a good Tour de France I would be back in the fight.
I won the Tour 134-117 largely through the luck of the draw: I was fortunate to have the first pick for two time trial stages won by Fabian Cancellara and two sprint stages won by Mark Cavendish. But taking back only 17 points still left a considerable deficit.
I needed a big Vuelta, but my 122-108 victory did little to change the overall. The remaining races—the US championships, the world championships, Paris-Tours and the Giro di Lombardia—were an anticlimax.
In 152 races, Brian picked the correct winner 23 times. I did it 18 times. Each of us got 17 wins from our wildcard picks. So that’s almost a 50 percent success rate (75-for-152) in getting a winner from one of our choices. Not bad. For what it’s worth, Brian picked up 14 “Lucky Dog” points to my 12.
Losing by 152 points is humbling, but I stand by my picks. During that awful stretch in June when Brian jumped out to a big lead, I had nine consecutive races in which my “winner” failed to yield even a single point. And just who were the guys who let me down? Alberto Contador, Denis Menchov, Samuel Sanchez, Levi Leipheimer, Philippe Gilbert, Roman Kreuziger, Andy Schleck, and Mark Cavendish … twice! It’s not like I picked a bunch of guys who don’t know how to win bike races. Oh, well. There’s always next season.
Posted by Dave Hanrahan at 8:34 PM