Category: tour de france

The Fella’s tour

Tour Start Marred by Doping

Last year, I ran a daily email following the stages in the Tour de France. A number of friends participated in a fantasy game where you allocate a team and win points if the riders are placed in each stage.

Whilst trying to rally support for a game in this year’s edition, the news broke that Jan Ullrich, the likely contender to win the tour this year, and Ivan Basso who was also on the podium last year, have been suspended due to alleged doping.

The accusations centre around blood transfusions: the riders have blood extracted at a previous time. This is then stored and re-transfused just before major races, giving them a 10-15% performance advantage as their blood is extra-oxygenated.

I’m not so motivated to watch and report on the tour this year. Lance Armstrong’s two possible successors are out, and many other teams are reduced to less riders as there are many suspended athletes.

Doping has been a scourge to cycling, but I think it’s unfairly singled out since endurance for an event like the Tour puts the athletes very much under the spotlight. 200km+ per day for 2-3 weeks makes phenomenal demands on the body.

Look me in the (virtual) eye and tell me that there aren’t performance enhancing methods going undetected in major sports.

White victorious, but Joost takes final stage with new highest stage score

The final Excel is here. Summaries of the stages of the tour including results are here : stages 1 to 11 and stage 12 to 21

Thanks to everyone for following the Fella’s tour 2005. I’m honoured to have come first, having expected to be in the middle of the peloton for most of the race. My tactic of putting Vinokourov in the team was the move which gave me the race : it turns out that the optimal 1-2 was Vinokourov – Armstrong, which made the difference for my squad.

Next year I expect the competition to be hotter still, as there will be no predictable Armstrong victory, more battling in the peloton, and hopefully some very exciting attacks.

Paul Evans made a valiant effort to pull back points, gaining ten on Francis Lee. However, from today’s morning analysis we knew he had a mountain to climb, and it was a flat stage after all.

It just remains for me to give you some summary information, most of which is also included as new data in the Excel sheet (attached).


The rankings of the teams based on the number of top ten placings for all 15 riders shows that ranking your squad, once selected, is the most important factor. It’s very close between the first three riders, and given Paul’s excellent score in spite of a lack of top ten places, his team positioning wasn’t as bad as he made out : thankfully he didn’t have a couple more strong riders or he’d have been a big challenger.

No contest for last place, where Keir’s random selection proved that you would have to work hard to do worse even if you were trying.

Final Ranking :

481(+54,-54) Simon White (France)
464(+57,-71) Joost Dantuma (UK)
410(+33,-125) Francis Lee (France)
400(+43,-135) Paul Evans (France)
107(+15,-428) Keir Mitchell (UK)

Most stage wins :

5. Francis Lee
4. Simon White
3. Joost Dantuma
3. Paul Evans
3. Keir Mitchell

Highest stage score :

57*. Joost Dantuma
54*. Francis Lee
54. Simon White
51. Paul Evans
26. Keir Mitchell

* this score also a stage winning score

Most “efficient” squad

Most top ten places :

49. Joost Dantuma
47. Simon White
46. Francis Lee
38. Paul Evans
10. Keir Mitchell

Number of riders who failed to make any top ten positions:

2. Joost Dantuma (Beloki, Heras)
3*. Paul Evans (Azevedo, Beloki, Jaksche)
3*. Simon White (Kirsipuu, Heras, Sastre)
3*. Francis Lee (Mayo, Rogers, Heras)
9. Keir Mitchell (Gonchar, Garcia Acosta, Spezialetti, Moos, Kroon, Canada, Loosli, Noval, Cortinovis)

* ranked according to the importance of riders who failed to make scores, e.g. Paul had 3 no scoring riders who were lower ranked in his team than Simon or Francis’ no score squad members.

Of these riders Heras (White, Lee) and Beloki (Dantuma, Evans) feature in 2 teams.

See the Optimal Team :

What of Keir’s challenge for the wooden spoon? Well, given Eisel and McGee’s return to top ten places, Adios Mofo was forced into submission. His final score was 93, 14 points adrift. Keir can take the honours for lowest placed rider not to win a stage, as both Adios Mofo and S. Chaumette just above Keir won stages. I don’t think we’ll see that kind of phenomenon again at the bottom of the table.

The rainy conditions, the foregone conclusion of a seventh victory for Lance Armstrong and the traditional go slow before getting to the Champs Elysées meant that the stage took time to warm up. Late attack hopes were wiped out as the official GC placings were decided as soon as the riders crossed the line for the first of eight times. This was for safety reasons as the organisers didn’t want any crashes in attacks on the slippery Paris roads. Vinokourov had other ideas as he sprinted to take fifth place on the GC due to bonus allocations. He outpaced McGee who had gone with him, cementing my victory to boot.

If anyone wants to calculate a green or polka-dot jersey ranking, I’m interested. I can’t come up with a methodology short of taking all points for those competitions and weighting them with Fella’s tour teams, which seems like a bit too much work.

Cheers, and I hope to see you all next year on the Fella’s tour.


Lee’s fine time trialling takes stage, White and Lee pull ahead

Sorry no email last night, but got back late and didn’t have time.

It’s pretty much cut and dried in the Fella’s tour. Barring a freak result, it’s unlikely that the order will change after the time trial stage. Franco has Armstrong placed first in his team, and the 3 extra bonus points which that represents made the difference today.

427(+46,-53) Simon White (France)
407(+33,-73) Joost Dantuma (UK)
377(+50,-103) Francis Lee (France)
357(+35,-123) Paul Evans (France)
92 (+0,-388) Keir Mitchell (UK)

Keir Mitchell is in trouble at the bottom, as Adios Mofo made a few points to make it to 91. If Vinokourov, Rasmussen or Mancebo get a top ten place today, then he’ll no doubt beat Keir down into wooden spoon place. As far as the rest of us are concerned, it’s a round and balanced 20-30-20 point gap : 20 separate the the members of the two groups, and there’s 30 points between the two groups themselves.

Francis Lee v. Paul Evans (20 point gap)

Paul Evans has made 20 points more than Franco in previous stages (+30 difference in Paul’s magnificent stage 7 win), but it had a lot to do with Boonen. If Basso and McEwen are well placed, that could be good for Paul, gaining him 16 points on Franco. He’d need someone like McGee to come in to make the difference, and he’ll have to hope that Leipheimer doesn’t come in a top ten place as Franco has him better placed.

Simon White vs. Joost Dantuma (also a 20 point gap)

I’m 20 ahead of Joost, and his top 6 riders are all in my team also albeit in a different permutation. In order to make up 20 points he’d have to do something pretty impossible. There has never been more than 14 points difference either way in stage results between us, with stage 13 being the best gap for Joost (+12) where O’Grady, McEwen and Hushovd were the only top ten finishers for either of us, and even then there were bonus points in Joost’s favour there.

Out in Saint Etienne yesterday, the time trial was excellent for Vinokourov, coming third overall (-1’16”). Ullrich took a very good second place (-0’23”). Lance “the machine” Armstrong took the time trial and likely his only stage win in the tour. Rasmussen had the worst day, dropping from 3rd to 7th in the GC after two falls and three bike changes. Since the riders leave 3 minutes apart, this meant he finished the day last behind Lance Armstrong even though he had a 6 minute head start.

There will be points on offer today as the top three sprinters all have a mathematical chance to finish with the green jersey. Hushovd is pretty much assured of the jersey if he stays in the top 3 at each sprint and/or just finishes ahead of O’Grady and McEwen, but they’ll be going for it in case of faltering from the other riders. It’s as academic for those sprinters as it is for the teams on the Fella’s tour…

P.S. Mild error in previous Excels

Please note the original stage 3 individual scores were incorrect. The Excel has always graphed the correct difference between riders, because the running total has always been correct (and this is checked with the TdF site every day), but the actual individual totals for stage 3 were wrong. I didn’t notice this until now, as I made comparisons for how the race might change around today. This means that I actually won that first stage, and the tie suggested between Joost Dantuma and Francis Lee on that stage was purely a formula pasting mistake.


Mitchell’s third stage win… with 5 points

Another day like yesterday, very few points all around, and the lowest scores in the tour so far across the board in the TdF online game. Only around 10% of teams managed to score points. It’s even closer between Paul Evans and Francis Lee, and Joost Dantuma has scraped a point back…

381 (+0,-45) Simon White (France)
374 (+1,-52) Joost Dantuma (UK)
327 (+0,-99) Francis Lee (France)
322 (+3,-104) Paul Evans (France)
92 (+5,-334) Keir Mitchell (UK)

The only curious fact of the day is that Keir Mitchell’s bottom table buddy Adios Mofo won the stage! So Keir could be back in the running to come bottom… he’s just 12 points ahead of Adios and could be in trouble in the individual time trial tomorrow!
The stage was another carbon copy style of the “transitionals” : a big break got away, and Giuseppe Guerini rode best to take the stage for T-Mobile. Riders in the top ten for the Fella’s tour were Chavanel (Paul), Grabsch (Keir) and Joost’s luckydip Pelizotti. Oscar Pereiro has gained a bit of time over the last few days, pulling up to tenth in the GC and ahead of Christophe Moreau.

At least we’re guaranteed a bit of excitement tomorrow !


Mitchell storms to second stage win

I think I said it all yesterday : to sum up, the Fella’s tour is on hold until the individual time trials on Saturday. Nevertheless it wasn’t as dead as yesterday as everyone except Francis Lee scored points today. This evens out the field into two identically spaced groups : 8 points separate me from Joost Dantuma, 46 points to Francis Lee, then the same gap of 8 points between Franco and Paul Evans. A further 232 points down, today’s stage winner is making a good effort on riding for pride after having been ridiculed most of the tour. Da Cruz came good for Keir, reaping 13 points.

381 (+3,-45) Simon White (France)
373 (+1,-53) Joost Dantuma (UK)
327 (+0,-99) Francis Lee (France)
319 (+1,-107) Paul Evans (France)
87(+13,-339) Keir Mitchell (UK)

The battle at the bottom of the table looks stabilised : Keir again gained on Adios Mofo and the gap is a safe 32 points. He’s only ten from the third from bottom, so the wooden spoon will not be going to Napton or thereabouts.

Out on the road today, Marcos Serrano won the stage and saved some face for the Liberty Seguros-Würth team. Riders like Beloki and Heras have done nothing for the team – and nothing for the Fellas either. A similar story from yesterday, the inital break got well over 10 minutes ahead and never looked back. In the maillot jaune group, things played out much the same as the last couple of days. Some minor evolutions worthy of note though. Vinokourov lost some time on the GC, and Ullrich gained a bit on Rasmussen to make a 3rd place look more likely. So it’s odds-on for Armstrong, Basso and Ullrich in 1-2-3 but I doubt anything will happen tomorrow. Would be fantastic if it did, but I think the riders will all be saving legs for the time trial what with three minutes separating second, third and fourth places.

Still, there is life left in the Fella’s tour. Maybe tomorrow a smaller break will get ahead leaving a few low places up for grabs so we can all be a little motivated in the lead-in to the time trial, where we’re all likely to pick up a lot of points. Sadly I expect much of the same tomorrow, so I’m waiting for Saturday.


White takes lucky points to take stage and the lead

It seems things are taking a turn in my favour, so Joost Dantuma could have his work cut out from now on. Allan Davis, something of a a wildcard selection in my team, 10th in my lineup came in 10th to give me the stage with just 8 points (lucky extra bonus points in there as well). I’ve pulled ahead of the flying Dutchc@#t… get in!

378 (+8,-48) Simon White (France)
372 (+0,-54) Joost Dantuma (UK)
327 (+0,-99) Francis Lee (France)
318 (+0,-108) Paul Evans (France)
74 (+0,-352) Keir Mitchell (UK)

Some of the riders in the top ten weren’t in any teams in the TDF game, and others figure in very few teams. Clearly the top riders are taking it easy and letting breaks, when formed of riders well out of GC contention, get away. Scoring 8 points today was sufficient for me to come equal 41st overall for the stage. But I’ll take the points where I can – Davis is a previous top ten finisher and has scored twice for me previously. It’s not a bolt from the blue.

Bad news preceded the result for everyone as all teams bar Keir Mitchell’s selection lose a key rider. Kloden fractured his wrist in his fall yesterday. This hurts Joost the most, Kloden is his number one rider. Three teams have now lost their lead man.

Today’s ride started with that bad news that Kloden, after just a few km, was unable to continue. After riding most of the stage yesterday with what was diagnosed as a broken wrist that evening, he couldn’t hack it today. Goes to show that the day after is always worse. From there on, a breakaway of seventeen riders gradually got over 25 minutes ahead, a bad omen for competitivity in the Fella’s tour. Paolo Savoldelli became the second member of the Discovery team to win a stage while the peloton was still over 20 minutes up the road. Vinokourov and Ullrich again tried to attack, at least to distance Rasmussen, but were soon held on to by Armstrong, Basso, Rasmussen and others. Vinokourov was the day’s winner in the GC, jumping from 10th to 7th after gaining 20 seconds by holding on in the main peloton group, which had started to crank up the pace near the end to pull a little ahead of the following pack which included Landis and Evans.

It’s looking a bit shit if the top riders stay in the peloton and let breakaways get so far ahead and in such big numbers. The Fella’s tour is being stamped out to a slightly smoking (but definitely schmokin’… perhaps too much) damp squib. It’s possible that there will be more battling for places in the GC, especially if a well placed rider or two gets going with a breakaway. Maybe Vinokourov will be mad enough to go for it with Ullrich. Given Discovery tactics it hasn’t even threated to happen yet, but here’s hoping…


Keir Mitchell shocks the world with his Chopper, wins stage

Incredible but true, Keir Mitchell has hit back at critics by showing the world that he can indeed ride. As others on the Fella’s tour failed to even get out of bed, Keir got up to call a blonde bird who stole Paul Evans’ Raleigh Chopper (see attached publicity photo) and did the business. Rumours that Keir stole a bunch of alarm clocks from the Fella’s tour caravans or that his sweaty chopper is up for sale on eBay after the victory remain to be confirmed.

Keir's Chopper

372(+0) Joost Dantuma (UK)
370(+0) Simon White (France)
327(+0) Francis Lee (France)
318(+0) Paul Evans (France)
74 (+14) Keir Mitchell (UK)

In the reverse championship for the wooden spoon, Adios Mofo managed 7 points, so Keir hasn’t pulled too far off the “inverse lead”. That bird on his chopper caused a number of the crowd to faint and may therefore have been an excellent diversion tactic to the Mofo team. Today Keir revels in 11th equal place in the top 100 in the TDF game, tomorrow he could be back to rock bottom. That’s cycling for you gentlemen.

As far as the actual tour was concerned, people tried again to attack – Vinokourov like the Energizer Bunny tried a couple of times to get Ullrich going, but Basso and Armstrong were never far behind. The early break – including Flecha and Evans who have tried breaks many times on the tour without success – stayed ahead in sufficient numbers to keep all popular cyclists out of the top ten. Nobody was in general classification contention in the break anyway. Flecha, inspired by Keir’s chopper, did the business and came in for him in 8th. The final winner was Pereiro who was outsprinted by Hincapie in the last stage and was clearly looking to make amends.

Sadly, it looks a lot like smooth sailing for Lance Armstrong unless someone actually manages to properly attack him, or perhaps if he starts to tire because of consistent attacks over the last few days which may drain his energy enough for a final push from Basso or Rasmussen. Or perhaps not, the time trial is usually all for Lance.

Nearly 240km on a fairly flat course with a couple of little climbs awaits the riders tomorrow. Let’s see if we can’t all get a “backy” from Keir’s blonde bint and score some points to get the Fella’s tour going again, while Keir gets back to scoring a little something for his handlebar pipe.