Le Tour '05 – The Game

May 30 2005


The Giro is over. So what are you going to do for the next month while you wait for the Tour to start? Work your mind-numbing, spirit-crushing job? Log hours of hard training time in hopes of maybe snaring a 20 dollar prime at some Cat 4 stage race? Clearly not. So this is what I propose: play Pick the Tour. It’s very simple. Spend countless hours researching the European cycling scene, then, based on your study, select winners for each of the categories we select (listed below).

But wait, there’s more! Since certain riders have a way of not being in such good sape each July, this Tour picking pool utilizes a revolutionary play-in format; for the first few picks, players will be allowed to submit their selections right up until race start. This allows you to see who’s looking hot and who isn’t before making any big CG calls, especially useful in this year’s edition of the race, which replaces the traditional prologue with a much longer 19k TT.

The deadline for picks on Stages 1-3 is the start of the stage, with your full selections being due before the start of Stage 4. Picks, requests for rules clarification or general comments should be sent to cyclocosm{at}gmail.com. I wouldn’t recommend sending anything before June 20th or so.

Also, this year there will be actual *prizes* for the winners. I can tell you’re all very excited.

Category (points) – subject to change

GC Categories
GC Overall (10) – The whole enchilada. The rider who has the fastest time after 21 Stages of racing. He gets a yellow jersey, and lots of doping allegations. Though every winner since 1999 is present at this years event, he hasn’t looked to sharp thus far this season. Could this be the upset?

Points Classification (7) – As of publication, every winner of this award since 1996 will be toeing the line in Fromentine come July 2. It’s given to the most consistent sprinter, based on points awarded for finishing position in each stage. Guy with the most points at the end wins.

Mountains Classification (7) – There are points available atop each categorized climb in the Tour. The bigger the climb, the more points. First guy over the top gets max points, hilltop finishes count double. The only former winner in this year’s race is Santiago Botero, so your guess is as good as mine.

Young Rider Classification (7) – It’s like the Yellow Jersey but for riders under the age of 25. Before this year’s Giro, a certain Damiano Cunego looked like a shoe-in. But as anyone who saw this year’s Giro can tell you, he’s far from a safe bet.

Combativité Classification (5) – You mean all these prizes aren’t objective? Basically, a bunch of French dudes sits in a room and votes on who was the most aggressive each day. At the end, someone wins. Sound crooked? It probably is.

Team GC Overall (5) – With all the emphasis on teamwork in this sport, this prize generally goes to the team with the fewest selfless, “team-player” riders on it. Ironic, no?

Stage 1: Fromentine – Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile ITT (4) – A real live ITT on the first day? Golly! It’s kinda flat, so GC impact will be limited, but, with most of the sprinters out of contention for yellow, it should take some of the nervousness out of the first week.

Stage 3: La Châtaigneraie – Tours (4) – Tours is generally considered one of the classic sprint finishes. It’s also your last chance to use a play-in pick before submitting your selections for the whole race. All the big name sprinters should still be in the race, so choose wisely.

Stage 4: Tours – Blois TTT (4) – The Team Time Trial. Postal’s won the past two, but Phonak took second last year, despite finishing with the minimum of 5 riders. Did I mention CSC hasn’t lost a Grand Tour time trial this season?

Stage 7: Luneville – Karlsruhe (4) – What? The Tour de France goes into Germany? Preposterous but true. At 225k, and with two major GC shakeups in the first week, maybe a breakaway takes this one?

Stage 10:Grenoble – Courchevel (4) – The first mountain-top finish and it’s right after a rest day! Man, that’s gotta feel good on the legs. Traditionally, Lance likes to “stamp his authority all over the race” on the first seriously uphill finish, but he hasn’t been looking so good lately.

Stage 12: Briancon – Digne-les-Bains (4) – Bastille Day! What better way to celebrate freeing 7 non-political convicts from a crumbling prison than to call this a mountain stage. Traditionally, you’d pick someone French to win this, but I really don’t know any Frenchman who could.

Stage 15: Lezat-sur-Leze – Saint-Lary-Soulan (4) – 6 climbs. All peaking above 1000m. Also, it’s a hilltop finish. Something tells me they will be generous with the time cut.

Stage 19: Issoire – Le Puy-en-Velay (4) – 154k? Are you kidding me? I’m sorry, I thought this was Le Tour. Did I wander into Le Cirque de Sarthe by mistake? That’s shorter than the run into Paris, fer cryin’ out loud. I’m telling you, this one really could be Jimmy Casper’s moment!

Stage 20: Saint Etienne ITT (4) – What ever happened to time trials? This 55k is the only full-sized chrono in the whole race. Good thing it comes right at the end, so it should be exciting, unless someone has a way huge lead. Then it will just be stupid.

Stage 21: Corbeil-Essonnes – Paris (Champs Elysees) (4) – This stage is pretty dull. Generally, some dudes pretend to drink champagne, count on their fingers and pose for photos. Then someone wins a sprint. Did you know 6-time Green Jersey winner Erik Zabel never has?

Number of Leaders (3) – Predict how many different riders will wear the maillot jaune in this year’s race.

Number of Finishers (3) – Guess how many riders will make it to Paris. Despite Tyler Hamilton and David Millar, it’s been a while since a big dope scandal has hit at the Tour. It’s Armstrong’s last time around, so you know WADA will be sniffing pee extra hard.

Fewest Finishers (3) – Which team will bring them fewest riders down the Champs Elysees? Traditionally, you’ve had your pick of sh!tty French teams, but with the ProTour, there’s only one Wild Card this time.

Most Wins/Rider (3) – Who will win this most stages in this year’s race? Keep in mind, they don’t have to finish it.

Fastest Frenchman (3) – This is a French race, right? Just because French riders kinda suck at the moment doesn’t mean we should ignore them. Pick the French rider who will finish the highest in the Overall. I will only award half-credit for Stephen Roche’s son, who is basically Irish.

Slowest American (2) – Ok, I’ll admit it; I rip on France way too much. Just because an American has won the past 6 years running doesn’t mean that other Americans don’t routinely get throttled. Pick the Yankee Doodle Dandy closest to the slow end of the results.

Lanterne Rouge (2) – Better known as DFL, the caboose, shat off the back, maglia nera, etc. Select which rider will spend the longest amount of time suffering out on the roads of France this July. Remember, you can’t all pick Jimmy Casper.

Laziest Stage (2) – Don’t you love sitting around listening to the OLN commentary team as they try to fill in the dead air between when the breakaway finishes and when the peloton slowly limps home? Pick the stage with the largest gap between winner’s time and main field (only stages with a “main field” finish group count for this).

Souvenir moi? Award (2) – Do the names Patrice Hagland, Rubens Bertogliati and Françios Simon sound familiar to you? Of course not. But they did each manage a day or two in yellow. Guess how many riders who’ve donned the golden fleece in previous years will slide it on again this time around.

Cookie’s Revenge (2) – Paolo Bettini had a great Giro this year, taking a stage and the points jersey. But he also sent Baden Cooke cartwheeling into the barriers, and made enemies with pretty much every Australian in the race. For the Tour, guess how many Australians will finish ahead of Il Grillo in the final Points Classification.

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