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PCM.daily » PCM.daily's Management Game » [Cont-Man-Game] General
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BBL Barely Even Predicts PCT
baseballlover312
I don't have time for all this ranking and mathematical nonsense going on nowadays. but I can go through the DB and write a 5 minute blurb and my completely shallow, uneducated first impression of all the teams... so I'm gonna do that I guess. I literally know nothing about MG, PCM, cycling, or real life, so can't promise much insight here. It's impressive how poorly I know the DB after 5 years. Pfft

Gonna start with PCT and see if I have the time and motivation to do all three. Probably not...

Please Note: I'm gonna be really sarcastic and savage in these previews. basically roasting every team as I go. Please don't take offense. it's all in good fun.
Edited by baseballlover312 on 12-08-2018 03:51
 
http://www.youtube.com/user/baseballlover312
baseballlover312
Ayubowan!

The first team alphabetically might also finish first, or at least that's what everyone else tells me, cause they're the first team I'm looking at, and I really have no idea where they'll end up. They also have an exclamation point, which makes me excited about the idea of them finishing first. The subliminal messaging is sensational.

As always, a quick DB check is necessary to see what division the Sri Lankan team this year. It's been different every year I've been in the game, which is pretty confusing. They bounce back and forth faster than an Olympic table tennis ball. I guess they'll be looking to keep that trend going and promote again straight away, so they can enjoy another relegation fight.

This year, that promotion is looking pretty good. Of course the nationality focus is apparent in leaders like Monsalve, Yates, McCarthy, Lander, Carthy... wait. I guess when the team decided to cross the Rhine and wipe out their French contingent, they were serious. With Petit gone, only one French talent remains, and Sri Lankan leaders don't grow on trees. International it is then.

In any case, they have a really strong GC squad. Yonathan Monsalve is a beast in PCT. A total diesel on climbs who survives hills well, and isn't even too shabby on the TT bike. Not the best in the division, but top tier. Should be in for a share of GC fights. I think Adam Yates is the real key here though. One of the best secondary leader in the division. Almost as good as Monsalve. Not as good on the mountains, but has a better kick. With good planning, those two could rack up crazy points. Oh, and their 3rd mountain guy, Hugh Carthy, is still better than my top climber, and isn't even maxed yet. Carthy will be preparing to take Monsalve's spot on the team next year without a doubt, as rumor has it all Ayubowan riders are euthanized once they reach the age of 30.

Mountains are definitely their best terrain, but Jay McCarthy should be super impressive on the hills too. Once again, he's only 26. As one of the top punchers in the peloton, I would expect him to have ample support, but... nope. Might be some regrets if he's isolated too early at points, or has to defend a leaders jersey. Unless Turgis takes some rapid aging pills, Gihan Pushpakumara is McCarthy's top support. Are you worried? Cause I'd be worried.

That's kind of where the big points end though I think. Sebastien Lander, AKA Danish Adrien Petit, should be able to score some decent results in the easier cobbled races with his good intangibles. As their best sprinter, I wouldn't count on him though. His sprint is CT level in this day and age, and his hill is good, but not good enough to outlast most other big guns. They'll be led by an attacking Sri Lankan in Sameera Chatarung on the cobbles, which should be fun. Wouldn't expect many results, but should show the jersey. Finally, Josh Atkins joins the squad as their best time trialist. Still not anything special though, and they have no depth for TTT's.

Overall, it's pretty obvious that Ayubowan! are one of the best teams in the peloton going uphill. They'll be counting on that, as they lack significant point scorers in other disciplines. They have some great leaders, but their plan to have those guys babysitting young Sri Lankans on the road all year is a little peculiar given promotion ambitions. All in all, the team is good, but dare I say a little... overrated? I think they'll be in the promotion fight, but not seeing a division winner here. Of course, maybe I should look at the other 25 teams before I make assertions like that...

Azteca - NBCSN

Azteca were on team that managed to bounce back from relegation and excel at the CT level last year, and now, those same guys are ready to take on PCT as well! ...literally though. Certainly Azteca has had a revamp when looking at their roster. They've only got 6 guys who rode for them last season on the roster, excluding loanouts. Unfortunately, most of those 6 are key players this year, even leaders, at a level up.

We start with Ryan Eastman, who has trained hard this winter to be even better up long climbs. This should help him score, but it hasn't made him into too much of a beast either. He's still a really nice climber with a solid time trials and a lacking punch up short climbs. He's improved from CT, but enough to carry the team? Good luck. At least he's still only 26, as the genetic monstrosity has been riding at max form since he slept in a cradle.

Eastman's backup guys are really solid. Robbie Squire is the main lieutenant, and could well attack on his own if there's issues. Mannion, Stetina, and even Oscar Solis could make a fearsome train on the mountains with Eastman, and as a bonus, they'll be right there suffering with him when he cracks on the hills. Of course, that is if they're even in the race with him. With 9 full time Lvl 1-2 talents on the team fighting for chances at experience, they might be forced to leave the team bus while the team manager sets up play dates with the managers of all his loanees.

Other than that, I'm not sure where Azteca is gonna score. Raúl "Best Secondary Sprinter" Granjel Cabrera is the primary sprinter, so that's not gonna win awards. He'll be looking to plan well and snag opportune points.Esteban Chaves is an awesome rider for hilly races that are a little more mountainous than normal. In that niche he should do very well, but opportunities won't be too plentiful given his poor backups, and as their best puncheur, he'll need to represent on all major hilly races if they wanna contend. Not sure that's their plan, but I guess we'll see. Squire is a good complement too him as well, if he doesn't overshadow him.

Finally, time trials and cobbles have been completely ignored. You accept that from a team with super strong leaders on other terrains, but as Azteca lacks that, it will probably hurt them even further. Depth isn't on their side either outside of the mountain train, and the fact that they have to stick useless prospects in so many races. A couple of solid puncheur helpers is all they've got there. They have a ton of those talents though, some of which are actually there's. That will keep the future looking bright at least, however far away it is. It's gonna be a long season for them. But hey, I heard they have a nice core for CT promotion.

Azteca may relegate. They probably will. But if all goes well and luck is in their favor, they may have a solid PCT team by the time most of you have gone gray and I can hopefully grow an actual beard.

Carlsberg - Danske Bank

I'm not old enough to drink alcohol in my country, so I can't tell you if Carlsberg is a mediocre beer or not. What I can tell you is that they'll be very lucky if they sponsor a mediocre cycling team this year. Somehow this team had all the chances to improve on last year, and didn't where it matters.

In a circumstance that shows God has no mercy for the weak anymore, Frederik Nolf is still on this team. At least he won't be leading anymore. Pieter Vanspeybrouck is the new guy on the block, and he'll be leading the cobbles squad, the team's only legitimate "strength." VSB seems to be one of the best classics guys in the division on paper, so if he doesn't underperform like every race for the last five year, he'll be a really good pickup. Ramon Sinkeldam also joins the crew for the hillier races. He'll be a pretty nice asset while he looks back to see Nolf dropped on the inclines. I'm sure he was so excited to find that the team transferring him in had big plans for him as a third wheel.

Last year, Christopher Juul-Jensen over performed to finish near the top of the PCT division, and that's not happening again. I mean come on guys, this guy has an awesome kick, but there are like 50 better puncheurs in the division. I think they might actually grow on trees or something. Like De Maar 2015, he was a great feel good story, but he's in for a major regression to the mean. At least the depth behind him exists. Speaking of De Maar, apparently he can't cash in his pension yet, because for some reason he's still racing this season.

On the sprinter side, Danish fans have finally gotten their wish. After four long years, Asbjørn Kragh Andersen has finally reached his full potential... as a mediocre sprinter looking for minor placings at best. He joins Davide Appollonio, another mediocre sprinter looking for minor placings. Together they make the most mediocre sprinter duo ever. What an honor. Also joining the sprint train is Thomas Vedel Kvist. He'd be a nice option for easier cobbled races too if the team didn't have five guys blocking that role from existing. So, what's the point of him exactly?

No other important leaders. They almost have a full collection of average Danish time trialists, so hopefully they'll max that out for the Armada coins. They certainly could use a gold pack right now. Also, after desperately needing a GC guy after last season, they've somehow gotten even worse on the terrain. Marc Christian Garby will be very lonely on the longer climbs - far ahead of his teammates, and far behind his competitors.

If there's one positive, it's that Carlsberg are more infused with youth this year. They now have enough young talents to field a full l'Avenir team, and then some. That's super nice, so a few years from now when they've reached their full potential, they'll have even more mediocre helpers to score 25 points a year and look good in a couple of breaks. How exciting!

Yeah, Carlsberg are probably relegating. They didn't last year somehow. They were given a second chance, and this happened. They had a few too many cold ones to drink in the offseason. Now this team looks like the puke and the hangover. Good luck downsizing again next year!

Carrefour - ESPN

Coppel and the Comets. It sounds like an early 1960's rock and roll band, but it's actually a PCT MG team this year. Apparently In-N-Out finally realized their customers were too fat to care about cycling, so they've been replaced with ESPN, who strangely won't even show highlights from a sport they now officially sponsor.

Jerome Coppel is the big edition here, and he's an absolute stud. I have no idea what the hell he's doing in this division. It's actually insane. He's the best pure time trialist in the world. Not bad on hills either to boot, so he's the favorite for pretty much every TT he rides this year, outside of the mountains. I heard the guy wipes with stop watches after he takes a crap. He's been around forever, and he's still riding at peak form. Will he ever start to decline? We may never know. Well, actually, my scouts say he's gonna decline right at the end of this year. So they've opened up a pretty small window here, but the view is pretty.

Onto the comets then. I don't know if people ever compare sprinters to comets either, but it was the first bit of alliteration that came to my head, so that's what we're going with. Three (!) huge sprinters transferred in this off season ready to make their mark. Of course, there literally aren't enough race days for them all to do that much, but it definitely sounds cool.

The biggest name is Ivano Lo Cicero, who they picked up from free agency after he was released by relegating Valio. Lo Cicero has a fearsome top speed for sure, and he only needs to launch his sprint from 500 meters out to have a chance at reaching it! Lo Cicero had a monster 2016 that had many people calling him the G.O.A.T. Then in 2017 he looked like a literal goat trying to ride a bike. I guess Carrefour better hope they get more of the prior. To complement him, we've got Romain Vanderbiest and Adrien Petit lined up right behind - two more potential leaders. Together, they can all go 0->60 in barely a full hour. They're great sprinters, but no acceleration. I'm sure they'll still all score when they have opportunities, but I wouldn't count on them beasting the division. At least they all complement each other's sprinter types, so they can lead each other out if planning goes that direction. Of course, that would make all the random 5th tier sprinters worthless.

That's where the fun ends it seem. I looked for a climber - no luck. Looks like we have a fear of heights. I looked for a puncheur - I found Andre Palini, who probably crapped himself at the very idea of leading a PCT team. He's not bad on any given day, but most agree he has the intangibles of a clean pig. I looked for a cobbler - I see Damien Gaudin, who is extremely confused that no one has told him who he's supposed to be helping this year. Maybe Petit can help in the two race days that feature easy cobbles and no hills? 3 terrains completely ignored. 3 terrains with a lot of points throughout the season.

Depth wise, I'd say it's worse. There's a truckload of those 5th tier sprinters I mentioned, and only one or two could possibly be necessary per race. Certainly there must have been better ways to spend that money that can actually score. Depth in other disciplines doesn't exist. Even with Coppel, only Wen Hao Li is another good TT guy on the team, so it's a wasted TTT opportunity. There's a few young talents getting race days, but sadly, most of them are on loan, and won't even be on the team when they max.

Carrefour is certainly an interesting approach. It's a fun team to look out and say - wow they've done something different. But contrary to what your mom told you when you were little, different isn't always better. With the introduction of disc brakes and hopefully no crashes this year, Coppel at least can rely on a bunch of stage and GC victories without much risk. With good planning, the sprinters should score good too, even if Lo Cicero drops another fat egg. With good planning, they should steer clear of the relegation fight. With bad planning, they have a warm, soft bed of nails to fall back on.

cycleYorkshire

Today I learned that cycleYorkshire apparently have a stake in Hong Kong. That's peculiar, as they have no riders from there and only one from Asia. I guess they just go there for fun in the offseason or something.

Regardless, their team has certainly seen a shakeup this season following promotion. Louis Meintjes was looking for a decent paycheck this offseason. They held up ten million bags of gold instead, and how could he refuse? He's a good climber who doesn't mind any real gradient or length, but isn't great on the TT bike. Word has it that he trained hard after not being able to save his former team from folding last season, so he has a better kick now - still not good though. He's a nice GC leader for this division, but... 3/4 of a million? Yikes. He's only 26, so they're gonna have a hard time trying to ever negotiate him down now in future years. He's got two lieutenants in Tvetcov and Kennaugh that are also solid and built in sort of the same mold, with the former maybe getting opportunities for himself, depending on if the race days line up for it.

On the hills, Jonathan Bellis is the guy transferring in from Ayubowan! He's had a lot of success in MG before, and although the level of competition has risen, I think he'll continue to have some, although word is that he might literally be riding every hilly race completely alone, as other guys on the team suffer anaphylaxis from allergies to the terrain. On cobbles, Andrew Fenn and Scott Thwaites make a fun duo. I actually think Thwaites is the bigger scorer this year due to his versatility and the strength of cobbles in the division. It's kind of funny that guys much worse on the cobbles and not much better at sprinting plan on competing with him in those races. Andreas Stauffis the lead sprinter, and should be decent at wheel hopping in flat races. He has a really fast kick, which is nice to see and gives him an advantage when going alone. That's important, cause Matt Rowe is his main lead out, and it would take him ten years to catch up to Stauff in a straightaway.

Lastly, this is one team with amazing TT depth. Working the TTT squad together like a well oiled chain ring. Durbridge, Viennet, Tennant, Stannard and Robert is an amazing squad. There's so many of them I though it would be weird to bold them. But then I thought they're too good not to, so I did it anyway. They're gonna destroy TTT's. Hopefully not in stage races that Meintjes is in though because he would be left behind faster than you can say overpaid.

Overall, I like this team. I'll just admit that. They at least have a leader for every terrain, which is always fun and refreshing, though they lack depth in most areas as well. They've also stayed true to their regional focus, with some notable exceptions. That is, except the mystery of Hong Kong. In for a solid mid table finish unless they really screw it up.

Euskaltel - Elior

We all remember the original Euskaltel team back in the day. Dozens of Basque climbers, conquering mountains together and alone, through countless attacks and gritty defense. What an image. Unfortunately, that image died long ago. What we have before us instead is nothing short of a mockery of that image. It's a monstrosity to anyone who believed in that underdog regional focus.

The current iteration of Euskaltel literally has ONE BASQUE RIDER. ONE. I looked it up. I checked every guy. I was hoping for a miracle. Alex Aranburu is the only guy on this team from the Basque Country. They don't even have a real Spanish or French leader. Now, ok, I get this is a different team. Maybe they're going more international in an effort to build a championship caliber team. You would certainly hope so. But nope, we have the following mess instead.

The best rider on this team is Damiano Caruso. That's the first red flag. He's an okay puncheur with an awesome kick who loves to attack, but come on! I heard he injects EPO into his saddle as placebo to make him feel like he can compete with the big guns. His major helped is Zingle, if he is a different rider at all. Complementing him in the sprints is Moreno Moser, who is a really solid and somewhat versatile sprinter, though not one of the best. Unfortunately, he's already been punched repeatedly by flyweight prizefighter Nacer Bouhanni since joining the team.

Dominique Cornu is a really awesome time trialist, but it's impossible to see him with a shot at winning much when Coppel is in the same division. Similarly, Magno Nazaret might do well on a few mountain stages, but his fear of hills and TT's makes him very subpar as a GC guy. Milos Borisavljevic, on the other hand, is very well rounded, but simply can't climb well enough to compete at this level.

They have a lot of good young talents, that's for sure. Their l'Avenir squad is great, and there are many future leaders in their ranks. That's the one thing they're counting on. Unfortunately though, none of their current guys have talent, and current talent scores points. Without points being scored, they're going to relegate. Then they're going to have a bunch of high priced talents and nowhere to put them on a CT team. They're going to end up losing a fair few of them anyway! Those future leaders may not be in their ranks when it actually matters. I get the fun in being a development geared team, but this is like shooting yourself in the foot, paying millions for a top of line prosthetic, and then shooting that off too. It's not like they even have any solid guys to build on now, because all their "leaders" are actually pretty old.

Is this the worst team I've ever seen? No. I've fielded worse myself. But it's a disappointing team. They have no regional focus despite having weak leaders. Now you may say that this is MG and they don't need to have a regional focus if they don't go that direction, but I personally want them to, and that's all that matters. They have talents, but I think we'll be seeing half of them actually maxed on the team in the future. And that's a waste. This team is a waste of that bright orange mirage which still brings a smile to my face, only for the tears to follow.

Fablok - Bank BGZ

After just missing out at promotion last season, Fablok are back and trying to make another go of it to make the promise land of the PT. Now, this isn't your father's PCT team! It's your grandfather's. These riders are so old the only footage from their U23 days is on black and white silent film. The strategy this year seemed to be to watch their riders get worse as they become the perennial retirement home of the division.

That's not to say they don't have good leaders. Erik Mohs, 32, is one of the best pure sprinters in the division, without a doubt. Not versatile, but with his kick, he doesn't have to be to score. They'll be counting on him for their biggest load of points this year I reckon, and it's probably his last at the top. Backing him up with be Andrea Guardini. At 29, Guardini has effectively just emerged from the womb in the context of this squad, so hopefully he doesn't trip over all the canes and walkers on the team bus before the races. Together, they make on the top sprinter duos in the division, and they have a couple of good leadouts too.

On the hills we have the shell of Chris Froome, 33, who has clearly seen some skills diminish over the offseason. He's still a good puncheur, but he's losing it in the backup areas of his discipline, and that will hurt him this year. He should still have sufficient domestiques at least, as the team has solid depth on the terrain.

Mikael Ignatiev, 33, is the big edition. He too has declined over the transfer season, and that 375k contract is looking pretty big to me. He's still a great time trialist who can climb decently and has an awesome acceleration. That should place in highly in hilly TT stage races. If only Jerome Coppel wasn't hanging out in the division as literally the exact same guy, but better all around. At least with Goldstein and some others, they have a solid TTT squad to fall back on.

I think the biggest loss will be Nicolas Roche, 34. He's clearly been declining the past few years, but his role has not been diminished. He's made up for his long of endurance on longer climbs with his punch in the past to match the other stage racers, but now he's not with the best on either terrain. This guy was barely outclimbing domestiques in training camp this past week. Maybe he's got a bit of fight left in him, but I'm not sure he'll suffice as a GC leader anymore. I'd even garner to say Pawel Poljanski is the better climber by now, though TT bikes are known to give him a bad case of the runs.

This has to be the year for Fablok. It has to be. You can't have any more wrinkles on the team and think you have a shot at winning. it's now or never. There's not a single unmaxed rider on this team. There's no one waiting in the wings for their chance. They're going to be in for a rebuild after this season for sure. They're only hope is that they can do it with a fresh budget and clean slate in PT, and don't end up sitting in PCT or worse for a few years more instead. Unfortunately for them though, they didn't make it before, and I'm not sure their team is better now, even with Ignatiev. I think they're gonna just miss out unless a lot of teams fold, and to them that's a death wish, with most of their riders soon reaching life expectancy.

Generali - EDF

Generali is generally a good team. Now that my first grade level pun is out of the way, and most of you probably didn't even notice it, let's get to the meat of the preview. This team has a lot of riders. Supposedly they have to sleep 5 guys to a single bed in their hotel rooms, but that's okay since that sort of space limitation helps them "bond" for TTT performances.

The TTT squad is their prized jewel, so I'll address it first - it's good. It's very good, indeed. They have a bunch of guys who can time trial well, and when they all do one of those time trials where they're all together at the same time, the ability to time trial helps them to do well in such races. Hence, they will do well in team time trials, when such events are in the race calendar that they chose to participate in. In fact, I would expect good results in such races, given the perceived abilities of their team to excel in such a discipline.

They actually have other riders, the biggest being Primož Roglič. He's a really nice climber, on a pretty solid wage, who's still not too old. A very solid GC threat. The weakest part of his game is his time trial - and that's just beyond funny to me. I can't even express how hilarious that is to my small, easily amused brain.

Beyond that, they have Diego Ulissi, who rides 10,000 km's every morning as a training ride. He's a great puncheur for this division - good kick, likes to attack, can power over flat sections with ease, and once road across the entire Silk Road in order to cool down from a hilltop finish. He's also got some really good support across the board. Some of those guys that are good at time trialing apparently also can do other things, like climb hills, without being to bad at doing such tasks. Late transfer season pickup Rafael Silva, who was signed on the black market after being sacked, has a really awesome combination of sprinting and hill climbing ability. He should be able to really excel in races with fewer than one stage.

Edward Theuns has spent the entire last 3 months sleeping on cobblestones in an effort to "understand them" better, and while it may have forced him to take a trip to a mental health services facility, it worked. This guy's combination of sprint, cobbles, and hill skills is very impressive, and he's got a bright future at 27. There's a fair few races he could really do well in, though given the strength of the division on cobbles this year, and his utter lack of any support at all, I'm not sure he'll really destroy the races this year.

Generali are an alternatively thinking team to the main, and I like that. They have a lot of riders, and a lot of very versatile riders who may not necessary excel in one area, but can find their niche and really score points in a lot of places. I think that's fun. Because of this tactic, race planning will decide their fate. They'll be safe from relegation no matter what I think, but whether they end up in the promotion fight will depend on how they plan their leaders and domestiques throughout the year to maximize point scoring potential. There's a lot of different ways they can go with it. Except for TTT's of course, where they actually have a full team of riders who are especially proficient at riding that type of race, in comparison to other teams.

Iberia - Team Degenkolb

After leading the team to an awesome season of relegation, John Degenkolb has apparently still earned the right to have a team named after him. If they have faith in him, I guess we all should? How the hell does that even work, though? Does Degenkolb have a company? Is he paying his slary back into the team just to have his name in the title? Does he forego a raise in order to have his name there? Is he granting surprise sexual favors to the team staff at training camp? What is Iberia getting out of this?

Regardless, Degenkolb is the top guy here. He's the top sprinter in PCT, and one of the top sprinters in the world. He's fits the sprinter mold perfectly, and is amazing at it. And while not extremely versatile, he's not especially weak at surviving other obstacles for a sprinter either. He's got two nice leadouts guy too. Unfortunately, there's a downside though. The MGUCI only lets him ride 36 days all year. So that's a lot of places he won't get to show his dominance. And when you're taking up that much wage cap, it can be a pretty big deal to only be in a 3rd of the possible race days on your terrain. It will limit him more than anyone seems to notice. At least his moustache sponsors the team.

Adam Blythe transfers from Puma, but I guess he doesn't get his name in the title of the team even though he's arguably as good. He's probably the best cobbles rider in the division this year, and he also packs and nice sprint to finish it off from small groups. He's got a few nice support riders to, so he won't be winging it. I reckon he might actually score as much as Degenkolb. It's crazy, I know. I haven't even looked at the point scales and I'm pretty sure it's impossible. but I needed a hot take cause it's been a while, so there it is.

And that's where the team ends I guess. Blythe and Degenkolb ride along with their goons and that's the whole team. Now, you might be thinking that I'm missing Ion Izagirre, but I think he's the one missing something here - talent. Yes, the guy can climb up hills pretty fast. Yes, he backs that up with handling longer climbs well. Yes, he's a good time trialist. All sounds good. What's missing is that it a space shuttle could travel to Mars in the time it takes Izagirre to respond to an attack. In hilly races, attacks are going off all the time. That's how you win. Maybe he has no gears or something, but it's unacceptable at this level. So while he will do well in hilly/TT combos for GC, I wouldn't count him as they star they trained him to be.

And... that's the team. Climbers? Who needs them! Time trialists? Nope. The team have some good young talents, and Latour should fill that GC void eventually, but for now, They have 2 or 3 guys who can score and that is it. Depth isn't great either, though their main leaders have helpers, and that's what matters I guess.

This is another team that I view as overrated. Sure, Blythe and Degenkolb are some of the best in the division - for 70 race days. There's a lot more than that out there. You're basically counting on those two never having a bad day. Yeah, they're awesome, but there's tough competition too. The best guy doesn't win every day. Will they be in the promotion fight? Probably, yeah. But I wouldn't bet money on them. Too risky. Almost as risky as putting a star rider's name in your team name, then relegating, and still doubling down on it...
Edited by baseballlover312 on 13-08-2018 19:03
 
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baseballlover312
Indosat Ooredoo - ANZ

We have another old team in the mix, this time from Indonesia. With five top riders at 32, the verge of decline, they will be looking to win this year, worrying that if they don't, I suspect those guys may have a suicide pact so they can get before father time takes them.

The squad is led by new transfer Martijn Keizer. Unfortunately, he isn't Prussian, which is a huge missed opportunity pun wise. Regardless, he is one the of the top stage racers in the world, and should really thrive in PCT. He's a great climber and is amazing against the clock. His weakness is hills, but honestly I feel that he will be able to survive them most of the time with good planning. His support is also stellar - Brenes and Augustyn are great riders in their own right. Again all 30 plus though - hopefully Indonesian social services can handle this many pending retirements.

Matthew Goss is the sprint leader, and he's solid. Really solid. A great classic sprinter. Unfortunately, with guys like Degenkolb and Mohs in the division, and without any real solid domestiques or leadouts, I'm not sure he'll be a big winner this year. I wouldn't be surprised if Goss lays a goose egg for victories this year, but I think he'll be around most of the time. He'll score.

On the hills, Malaysian Mohamed Shawal Anuar Aziz has far too long of a name. Though at least his hill train is just as long. Unfortunately, Anuar Aziz's points total will be limited by his intense fear of showing his jersey or being exposed to sunlight, leading him to frantically hide in the pack and avoid the goblins that apparently snatch you if you try to attack. Hopefully with his helpers protecting his fragile psyche, he'll be able to go up the road with leaders and score some points he theoretically is capable of.

Keizer is also the best time trialist, and behind him there's pretty much nothing. Nikolas Maes was added over the offseason, and he's pretty solid over the cobbles. He'll either be an amazing under the radar signing that surprises everywhere, or he'll be an underwhelming puddle of ambiguity. I don't have enough time to think about which one.

Indosat are a strong team. I like their versatility, and they have some solid leaders and good depth. I'm tempted to put them in a promotion hunt. But like Fablok, they better got on the scoring quick this year. Their team is old as dirt, with a lot of guys looking at one last shot at their peak. They have only a talent or two in the wings, so they are in need of a rebuild after this year either way.

Kraftwerk Man Machine

As cannibals, Kraftwerk Man Machine try to keep their inner circle tight knit and closed off from the outside world in an attempt to preserve their bizarre and terrifying life style. At least, I assume that what man machine means in this context. It's the first thing I thought of - a machine grinding up men to be eaten by hungry German cyclists. Hence, the team's leadership remains pretty much intact from last season.

The Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish, is the main guy. In the sprints, he is king. Well, not really. There's better sprinters now in the division. Of course, that didn't stop them from importing 7 million leadout men for him this past off season. This is one of those times where I sit and scratch my head. You can only have one or two guys leading out Cavendish at a time. Are they going to sprint in a line from 5k out? Only Haller and maybe Kreder are capable of sprinting for themselves as a secondary guy I feel, so it's not like they're just playing their options. So let's be honest, there's only one explanation. It involves Mark Cavendish with a full stomach, a pile of bones, and a few of these guys "missing" by the end of the year.

Their second major discipline is the hills, where Aleksandar Flügel leads. Both he and Cav are 32 by the way. Does anyone feel like the MGUCI won't be able to support all these retiring riders taking pensions? Just a thought. Anyway, Flugel is a top guy, but he doesn't stand out in anyway. He's kind of just there at the front, following attacks, speeding over hills, feasting on the blood of soigneurs, and getting solid results. He's a good leader, and he's German which fits the regional focus. His domestiques are also really quality, just like with Cav. Also very solid regional focus for them.

Leading in the TT's we have Lucas Schädlich - one of the top guys but nothing super special. But past we have another team where multiple disciplines have been completely ignored. Did they eat all of the climbers and classics guys already at the off season retreat? I just don't like to see this, because it's so limiting. Even having one cheap 3rd or 4th tier guy on a terrain is usually worth it to me. But then again, I also have no leaders on my team, so maybe I shouldn't judge. Besides that, no real wildcards or super good young talents.

While having a cannibalistic Fourth Reich in the PCT peloton is not the most comforting feeling, I think they have a solid squad here, and it's almost completely built on their national focus, which is admirable, though it will scare the French and Polish teams. Not much changed over the transfer season. They've invested hard in two terrains, and they will score well on them, but I'm not sure it's enough. Not that I think they'll be fighting for relegation much, but with two 32 year old leaders being counted on for most of the points, here's another team that needs a rebuild next season. That's starting to get repetitive to even say.

Kulczyk - DMTEX

Okay, I'm not even going to try to pronounce this team's name. That cluster of random letters and abbreviations is a disservice to the integrity on mankind. Proof that God dies more and more every day.

Call-in Sick decided that the best way to promote from CT was to buy some of the top CT leaders for next season's promotion hunt. Rafa Valls, last season's CT dominator, has decided to join forces with rival Pierre Paulo Penasa and form the Golden State Warriors of MG. Unfortunately, they forgot that the team is now in a higher division of the sport. That sure hasn't stopped overpayment though! Apparently management has also forgotten that the salary cap exists, and has tried to spur a 21st century gold rush to fund their team. Mediocre riders everywhere will be enticed by the apparent riches they can receive at Coldchicken - DEMON TECH.

Let's starts with Jérôme Baugnies, a solid cobbles leader who has a balanced style and likes to attack. A nice rider to have, no doubt. 540k. Yup. 540k. 540k. I keep saying it because it's so bizarre to see a guy of his capabilities buying 6 vacation homes before the season starts. Especially with only two worn out domestiques to help him. Speaking of which, the husk of Sebastian Langeveld is still making a 100k paycheck.

Valls and Penasa are almost the same rider. Now mind you - Valls is slightly better in most aspects including hills and TT strength, but he has a worse kick. Penasa is making a fairly reasonable 210k, and Valls is making... 350k. 350k. 350k. Absolutely insane. Now maybe you can justify spending that much on a leader when he can wreck CT for you, but these guys will be looking for minor placings GC wise most of the time, unless they get incredibly lucky. The labor advocates won't complain though.

On the hills, Enrico Barbin is the leader. Nowhere near the top with his skill set, but not a bad guy for... 260k!!! 260k for a guy who like many others on this team, could very well fit into a CT team. It's insane. Maybe the manager and sponsors are just super generous or something. They make me feel like even I could get six figures to ride on their team. The guy has a nice kick, but there's at least a dozen guys better than him in the division, most getting paid less, some far less. No amount of support will change that.

At least their secondary guys, while not great, are on somewhat decent contracts. Anthony Lavoine and Sam Bennett will get their fair share of points from minor placings throughout the season. Ryan Mullen is a really nice young time trialist who while not among the best in the division, is only 24. And in general, the TTT team isn't that bad, and they can use it in races Valls goes to. They have a couple of talents in the wings too, but non one with a ceiling higher than a domestique.

The team might have thought they were made of money, but they aren't. The wage cap isn't a suggestion of good faith, and eventually Cauliflower Chick's Dirty Tents will have to realize that. They haven't a ignored any terrain, but they have ignored their wallets. With more reason contracts or the lack of redundant guys in general, they could have bought another top leader and a few domestiques for him. Instead, they've dug themselves quite the hole. They've even made it difficult for them to contend in CT next year given that these contracts won't fit in a CT budget - unless they just ignore that again. In that case, the title is almost there's! Just a few more counterfeit bills to print out, and they're set!

Lierse SK - Pizza Ullo PCTeam

Next up we have a team with a very interesting name that includes their alleged current division in a quirky fashion. Unfortunately, they've made the mistake of assuming PCT will be their division going forward. After all, despite the name, they don't seem to have built a PCT level team anywhere that I can see, at least not this year. Maybe it's a case of saying it enough times in an effort to make it come true? They also haven't tried to improve much - they didn't buy a single rider from another squad over the transfer season, though they did sell.

Yet another team with quite a lot of sprinters depth. Tom Van Asbroeck is their main guy. He's fast, but not one of the best. he does manage to get over hills better than most though, so he'll have to utilize that in his schedule in order to score big. His heir apparent, Fernando Gaviria is very peculiar. Given the recent decline in early development of young riders on tour (due to the MGUCI's crackdown on child labor), it's strange that the MG Gods have allowed this young behemoth to become so good at his age. Gaviria can arguably climb even better than Van Asbroeck, and can while not having quite the same top speed, can get their faster than you can say "loser - pizza". Somehow, my scouts say he can also still improve without putting any extra effort or money in. I repeat, who let this happen?

Kenneth Vanbilsen is the big gun on cobbles. Pretty much a classic classics specialist. He does well on cobbles and hopes that will be enough in a tough selection at the end of the race. Unfortunately for him, with the amount of cobblers that have been imported into PCT this year, it will be difficult to get the really top results, at least consistently, when he has nothing that makes him stand out. Most of his opponents are better in one aspect or another.

The last guy with leader scoring potential is Zico Weaytens, though once again, I'm tempted to say he doesn't really stand out. I mean, the guy's name is Zico, which is cool as hell, but skillset wise, he's pretty much the most basic, boring hills leader possible. He can follow leaders up the climbs and then he's... there. That's pretty much it. Doesn't even really have good intangibles, so I think he might underperform.

That's basically the terrains that Lierse has given much thought to. On mountains, Manuel Senni can hope to do decent in balanced GC races. Not a single time trialist exists. Depth wise, they are stellar though. Waeytens has a few slid guys despite the loss of Stuyven. Stijn Joseph has been a rock for them for going on five years, so hopefully he's good enough for Vanbilsen. And of course, there's another team with 50,000 lead out men. I don't see the point, but a lot of them are young, so it's a little more understandable.

Speaking of young guys, this is a very youthful team. And I mean very youthful. Like racing without their parents present would have them put in protective custody. The good news is that most of these guys are already good helpers, and project to be leaders. Gianni Moscon, Niccolo Bonifazio, and Sam Oomen all have the potential to be leaders later in their careers. That youth coming in the wings makes it easier to not make moves this transfer season I guess, though relegating with all those talents onboard would be a catastrophe.

When you have that many talents, I think sometimes it's best to at least make sure you have a team not in danger. However many times they have PCTeam in their name, that doesn't mean it will stay that way. With good planning I think they score enough to stay up. But with their rider types, planning is that necessity. And if they put as much into planning as they did into the transfer season... Lierse CTeam is on the horizon.

Meiji - JR East

I really love this team. I'm not even sure how I can make fun of it because I love it so much. They've gone full out with their regional focus, which I love. The team is entirely made up of Asian riders, mostly Japanese. Unfortunately, that's made it hard to come up with a good theme or way to roast them. The only thing I could think of was anime, but I'm not a fricking weab, so I have no idea how that would even work.

2016 PCT champion Tomohiro Kinoshita continues to lead the team for another season. It's hard to say a guy whose won the division will have a breakout year, but he certainly will have a bounce back year. With EBH out of the division on no other punchers stronger than him, he certainly has the ability to finish in the top 5 of the rankings at least. He's only 27 after all. How is that even possible, side note? He doesn't have the best support, but that hasn't been an issue in the past so, I suppose it's fine and if it's not, I'm glossing over it anyway.

Next, we see the awesome GC tandem of Chen Shikai and Ki Ho Choi. Yes, Choi is very overpaid. The surplus wage in that 325,000 could have gone to funding some development for youth cycling in Asia, which is necessary considering the ratio of 1 cyclist: 1,000,000,000 people. Instead, Choi gets to bathe in gold in his Hong Kong mansion. Either way, he's still a very talented rider. Both he and Shikai are awesome climbers, and balanced GC guys - Choi handles other terrain slightly better, but Shikai has better raw talent as a stage racer. They are an awesome tandem, both also very young, and will be able to contend in every mountain race including clashes. One problem - neither of them have much of a kick. This will hurt them when things get aggressive in the mountains. Hopefully their key helpers can help them drag it back if it comes to that.

Beyond that, Kenji Itami is their main sprinter. He's got a kick that erupts more intensely than Fuji, but often he finds himself tired before it comes to that point from hills, pace, or race length. Not to the point where it stops him from being useful, but it makes it harder to plan around. A guy like Kazushige Kuboki will be useful at the end of tougher stages, and he can also TT if there's a race that fits that skillset. I mean, he's mediocre at all of those things, but on paper he looks cool.

No major leaders for TT's or cobbles, though Shiki Kuroeda can score a bit in easier races including the latter. I can handle focusing on a couple of terrains though when you have really proven scorers leading them. Depth is also really good, and the team has a young core, made even younger by the Japanese life expectancy, which should guarantee most of these riders at least another 400 years at peak performance. Still even more talents in the wings too.

I see Meiji as a promotion contender, and I don't think I'm alone. Great leaders, great depth, great youth, great regional focus. Sure, they've failed to live up to promotion expectations in the past, but Japan failed to live up to expectations by losing World War II, and now they're a superpower again. Plus, Meiji has a young core ready to burst rather than a nuclear one. So overall, the future's looking good.

Minions

Minions? Minions of who? That's the question we all wonder when we see a team that has no sponsor and is made up mostly of Americans, but is for some reason registered in Qatar. Well, the answer is very simple.

The evil supervillain raising from radioactive, abandoned deserts is Rigoberto Úran, but that's pretty obvious, as he's the only guy on the team capable of riding a bicycle outside of that flat desert. The guy's a beast. Climbing and time trialing are nothing to his physical form. By sapping the strength of all of his teammates, he has been able to harness the life energy of ten beings and become one of the best stage racers in the division. A fair play I guess. It's worked. He has some minions too, although maybe combining them into a henchman might have been worth it.

There's also Ruben Zepuntke , who transferred in from T-Mobile a few weeks back. Safe to say he's as confused as anyone to be leading this team. Cobbles are his friend. People attacking on the cobbles are not. Unfortunately for him, people attack on the cobbles. It's kind of a thing. On the bright side his Belgian clone Niels Albert is already on the team, and manages to be almost the same guy but with less talent. Should be a fun year on the pave then. Some more minions are there as well, including De Haes, who after five years has actually morphed into a small, unintelligible, yellow cyborg, with his family suing to pull the plug.

The rest are just minions. Xavier Quevedo is the sad attempt at a lead punchuer. Damion Drapac and his intense fear of wheelchair ramp inclines leads the sprint team. There's a few TT guys, led by Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg, that could champion them to a top 15 in a C1 TTT, and all the honor that comes with it. Every little kid's dream is to be a part of something that special.

I feel like I haven't talked about this team enough compared to the others, and I apologize for that. In all honesty there's just too many useless minions on this team. I like big squads, but some of these guys, or creatures, or things, or whatever they are, don't deserve contracts. Even if Uran tries to use his superpowers to slow down the earth's rotation around the sun, there still aren't enough days in the year for him to score points. And he's their guy. Zepuntke is young and has some talent, but I'm not betting on him with his unwillingness to convert to a bicycle with gears that allow for change of speed. Beyond them, not much. But I guess when you call your teams minions, they can only serve one leader. I thought that leader was Uran. Maybe it's actually relegation.

Netia - Vónin

Honestly, it's a miracle that Netia is still in this division. It seems like they've been trying to relegate for 3 years, but are so bad they couldn't even accomplish failure. Garbage trucks sometimes gets confused and dump their bags from the day in the team bus because the team is such utter trash.

Three times the charm I guess. Michal Kwiatkowski will lead them once again, and like everyone on this team, he gets a fat paycheck to do it. Half a million bucks for the 28 year old. He's a good climber/puncheur hybrid. A capable leader. But God, that contract is awful. If his wealth got partitioned like his country always does, he'd still be able to make millions of pizzas with all that dough. That said, he should be able to score in hilly/mountain combination stage races, like usual. He's got some hill support, but he'll be left alone and scared on longer climbs.

Oh wow! I see a "leader" in another terrain. It's Maxime Vantomme, the most basic possible sprinter in existence. I mean, he's fine, but I'm pretty sure every team besides my own in this division has a sprinter at least near his level. And you could probably buy two very slightly worse sprinters for that wage that will score more. But that's just my opinion. At least he has legend Kristian Sobota leading him out, because for some reason this Polish - Faroe team feels the need to hold quality Danish riders captive for years on end - just ask Mads Pederson as he gets trained in grotesque ways clearly against God's will.

The next two guys actually cause me pain to talk about. Norwegian champion Kristian Dyrnes gets a chance at leadership. Or at least, I assume he will? Gotta think Kwiakowski won't go to standard hilly classics, so Dyrnes it is. I like his rider type. Most years I'd be after him. But it's a little much to see the poor man's Juul-Jensen as a very, very rich man. In fact, twice as rich as him. 300k! Even if he pulls a complete 2017 JJ, it's not a great value.

But somehow it gets even worse with Lasse Norman Hansen. Despite similar riders making five figures, he is taking home a whopping 250k this season in order to top ten in a few prologues and win the annual 100m sprint from a standstill that I just made up. Ludicrous. It's as if Netia created an imaginary salary floor they had to hit and tried to get there as quickly as humanly possible. These insane contracts are long term issues, which no one seems to realize. They will be a cancer to negotiate down in renewals, especially for a team looking to cut down or sell off to fit in CT.

We have another dev team here. Dev teams are short sighted if they're going to relegate, which Netia are destined to do. Gonna be a lot of issues wage and space wise when all these guys max. They have the talents, but they may not have the means to make it work. Of course, I don't wish ill will towards any teams, but if their hands are tied by the time the next top Danish talent emerges... maybe it's just the world cleansing and restoring itself to rightful order.

Nordstrom - BioWare

Oh how the mighty have fallen. When I was a kid, Bioware were investing their money in things like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, one of the greatest game ever made. Today, they're investing it in crappy cycling teams partnered with a preppy department store. Worse betrayal than Bastilla turning to the dark side and joining Malak. I guess he was right about evil in the galaxy.

It seems like Nordstrom have fallen into the classic trap of playing PCM without any stages installed. Thus the hilly version of GP Plouay appeared to be the only race on the calendar. Having 97 punchers under contract would make sense in this case. Unfortunately, there are multiple terrains in professional cycling and across race categories this season. Compounding the problem is the method that the team is using to score results on the one terrain they can. Getting every puncher on the Star Forge can lead to competition for leadership, which is not always good. Laurent Pichon is their best puncher, at least in my eyes, as he has more all around skill without many weak spots. Alex Dowsett, on the other hand, may technically handle hills more efficiently, but is unlikely to score good results as consistently. Good luck getting him to take on a lesser role though. That infighting will hurt team morale and make it hard to really go for one guy. And then of course, there's 25 other punchers on the team capable of results who might just say screw it and try for themselves. More does not equal better, a lesson learned early but apparently not by all.

There are some secondary guys on other terrains that must have woken up on this team super confused and forgetting that they're not punchers. Unfortunately, none of them are as powerful as Revan after his amnesia. David de la Cruz is one of the best CT stage races not in CT, which is a shame. Never fun to have a guy that's supposedly good at everything, but just isn't good enough at pretty much all of them. Unless they plan on using him as a hills domestique, which is also a very distinct possibility.

Guillaume Boivin is a pretty fast sprinter, though not one of the best. He can make it over some hills, but I struggle to see what stages he'll make use of that. He's better than a lot of guys over climbs, but he's still going to be dropped most of the times it's selective, so it won't help him much. Plus he'll probably get dropped as his own team forgets he exists and does a team attack on the toughest part of the course. It's a bigger conflict of interest than when I used Zaalbar's life debt to make him slaughter his 14 year old best friend in front of me. I was dark side that playthrough, so it's fine...

Finally, there's Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, who has absolutely no chance in this division to do anything. The guy wouldn't even be the top lieutenant on some teams, and yet he's getting paid even more than overpaid Frederik freaking Nolf. At least he's Belgian cause that's on the same... uhhh… planet(?) as the sponsors? That's always important.

I guess it's a shame only five teams can relegate, cause so many more deserve it this year. Another team that wish they had a few better choices in upgrading their force abilities last transfer season. Could have gone a long way with leaders. Either way, Nordstrom will most certainly be relegating this season, whether they get the light or dark side ending.

Novatek-Panarmenian.net

Novatek have a lot of quality leaders, and those are hard to come by. I'm impressed. They're pretty old, but they know they're doing. Now, one thing I still need to find out is why a Russian team wants so many NATO leaders on their team, but let's move on before the KGB gets any ideas.

Dan Holloway has been at the top levels of the sport for a long time, and he returns for another season at Novatek. At first glance, he looks like the average sprinter at this level. But what that doesn't tell you is how he uses his engine before the sprint. The guy is a beast on flat roads the entire way, and uses that to make sure he has a lot of energy and the perfect wheel heading into the final sprint. I think the American will do really well at undermining the West's regime from the in... I mean, scoring points in the sprints. To keep an eye on him, I mean help him, is Russian Aleksandr Serebriakov. He's the perfect secondary sprinter on a solid wage, and can leadout out in the most important races.

On the hills, we see another top duo in Maurice Schreurs and Dominik Klemme. looks really good on paper, but they better try to keep their race days apart as much as possible, or their gonna have leadership problems just like Nordstrom. They're too similar to hope they sort it out imo. Both are veterans who think they can win at this level, even if a Klemme's attack actually slows down the rider in his slipstream. No super domestiques for them, just a bunch of guys ready to collect intel... I mean bottles. Yes, bottles. That's it.

They also have two of the most powerful time trialists in the division, which is really cool to see - both from Oceania. While Michael Ford is probably the slightly better pure time trialist, Jesse Sergent is the more useful rider. He's better able to utilize that time trial engine on the flats, which will be super useful for a sprinter like Holloway. Of course, he gets compensated for the utility with way too much money, although that insane raise is more on Compal than Novatek. They aren't as good as the very top guys in the division, so good luck to them trying to win races, but at least their strength against the clock will help them time missiles off the southern border... I mean score points, of course. Plenty of mines, I mean minor placings, will be had easily for them.

Their depth is not the best, but it's not really trying to be. A bunch of guys literally armed and ready to inject the serum in the target... or mark an attack, I should say, on any terrain. They signed plenty of new recruits for the upcoming season, and it will be interesting to see which ones end up as stars on the team, and which one's end up being edited out of official photographs.

That's about it for Novatek. No cobbles guys, as that would be too suspicious. A really strong team that definitely capitalizes on having strong leaders in most terrains, and that's the recipe for success. If they promote, which is likely, it should be really interesting to see which PT Russian team Putin will endorse next year, and which one will disappear at a "training" camp in Siberia.
Edited by baseballlover312 on 05-10-2018 01:06
 
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Philips - Continental

Gotta love a team that makes my life even more difficult by literally putting the wrong division in their team name. And unfortunately, their team is actually pretty good, so there's not much I can do to imply they'll relegate for it. I was very confused when I first looked at this team in the DB because I had accidentally scrolled past the top 3 riders on the team, and so I thought I had found the truly worst team I've ever seen in my life. I was so excited. I was gonna tear into them so hard. Turns out they had to actually have leaders though to ruin my day.

The best rider on their team overall is very unique, which should be really... interesting. Lahcen Saber is as good as most top sprinters in the division, but also has a lot of talent on cobbles. He's like a very poor man's Kristoff. Certainly this is an awesome rider to have. I reckon on easier cobbled races he'd be a favorite. However, I think this will also make planning very difficult. With his limited race days, do they send him to sprinters races, or cobbled races? Is there a perfect middle ground? Can he race enough under MGUCI restrictions to make this skillset worth it? I certainly hope so. I love to see guys like this succeed. Or achieve catastrophic failure to the point of misery. One of the two. They don't have a top classics guy or sprinter to overshadow him, so I reckon they're counting on him for both. If he can't, a guy like Alexander Krieger or Remco Te Brake will have to step up, but there's no stairs in front them, that's for sure.

Alright, now that my figurative boner has died down for Saber, let's get on to roasting more overpaid dirt. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya not only has too many names, but has an incessant fear of hills and time trials as well. Teams have tried everything to help him. They've had him ride blindfolded so he can't tell if a climb is under 5km. Nothing seems to work. The idea that a climb is short seems to scare him for some bizarre, unknown reason. Unfortunately, climbs come in all shapes and sizes. We practice diversity and climb type positivity in MG. It's 2018! At least a guy like Jarlinson Pantano should be good support for him, as they can hold hands and cry about their fear of speed bumps together.

Rui Costa, on the other hand, has far more variety in his skill set. His main act is as a puncheur, but he can also time trial pretty well, and even doesn't sprint terribly towards the line. A well rounded, great rider to have on time team. he should score plenty in those hills/TT stage races. Ramunas Navardauskus has a very similar mold, and should be able to help the cause. I like how the domestiques on this team often have similar characteristics to the leader. It should lead to some great team chemistry, efficient scoring, and homoerotic undertones on the team bus.

The depth is also pretty good on this team, though not having a true four headed leadership is a missed opportunity for a team with Philips in the name. Like a screwdriver though, most of the helpers on this team are efficient and help get the job done easier. Most guys who aren't great are young talents, with some notable exceptions. It's important to note that some of those talents are on loan and have zero future with the team, but I digress.

Philips surely is not a CT team. A few unique and solid leaders who should score well, with good depth behind them. That's a recipe for success. The oldest recipe in the book. Anybody could do it. Common sense really. Like it can't possibly be that fricking hard to just do that, but so many team are loads of crap instead... Anyway, Philips have a really good team that I think will fight for promotion. Saber's planning and success will determine if they get there or end up stranded in mid table no man's land.

Probable Admission

The team, all names, sponsors, and attributes portrayed in this preview are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. No person or entity associated with this article received payment or anything of value, or entered into any agreement, in connection with the depiction of doping products. No bicycles were harmed in the making of this analysis.

I have been informed there are some topics I am not allowed to discuss under fear of prosecution, so instead I will give a mock preview of this completely unrelated and fictional team I just made up.

Pandomnium Ambivalence are a very interesting team, hailing from their home region of Mars. By far the best rider on the team is Callus Ewwwwww, a terrific young sprinter who is just now reaching his full potential. He's super talented. In the real world, he would be one of the best in the PCT division, challenging guys like Degenkolb for the top results. Very few weak spots for him as a guy who can get over both hills and cobbles if necessary. His partner in crime, Rocky Noodles is also an awesome sprinter and would be the top leadout man in the division, provided there are no false flats involved.

In this team's theoretical and unlived past, they were very good at cobbled classics. Deranged Thompson has been a mainstay in my fan fiction for a while, although he's getting older. He combines success over the cobbles with a terrific burst of speed usually unmatched in such selective races. Though he prefers his road flattened to at least 125 grit. His partner in crime is former beast but now sad old man, Marvin Burgerlord. He could still fly over the cobbles for a bit, but these long, competitive races are starting to get to him. Not that he's gonna mind the 300k he gets for them in my imagination.

For stage races, the team have employed Andruuw Tellastory as their leader. He's not the best climber in the division, but he's versatile on climbs and doesn't have a terrible time trial. He can hold his own without much help in hope of getting some solid points. Similarly, Sermon Yeet, the team's top puncheur, makes up for his inability to match the top punchers with his intangible skills, rapid acceleration, and very solid sprint, making him a favorite whenever he can hang on. His friend Juulio Alt-F4, is almost a lesser carbon copy, so that would be his main help along the way.

However, besides their top sprinter, nobody in the mythical Premium Abomination team are really top leaders. They rely on minor points and planning their supposed calendar well in order to score. Unfortunately, as fun as it is to dream up these unreal scenarios, the hypothetical manager of this team would probably be too absent to make that work and make it all worth it. Without amazing depth, leaders, or the motivation to plan perfectly, they probably wouldn't compete that well.

Overall, Possible Abduction is a pretty terrible team with a few bright spots, that would most definitely relegate if put into this year's PCT division. For that reason, it's a good thing they are utterly and completely fake.

Repsol - Netflix

Repsol are a team that focuses on climbing. That's a given. Whether it's long mountains or short, steep hills, this team has a lot of guys willing to take on the challenge.

For stage races, Merhawi Kudus has gotten a contract so fat that it jumped Eritrea's GDP per capita by 20 spots in the world ranking. While he hides cash under his saddle, the team hopes he will be competing for top places in stage races. Kudus can climb really well and can keep the gap to just barely insurmountable on his TT bike. His helper, Jakub Novak actually likes his aero form, constantly posing with it in the mirror, but last time I checked we don't do duo TT's in stage races, so Valens Ndayisenga might actually end up being the more useful super domestique.

The Spanish squad that apparently hate Spaniards will be led on the hills by Sven Erik Bystrom, or at least I think they will? There's like a dozen guys on this team who theoretically could lead, but all of them have pretty big flaws and probably couldn't do it well. So they go for the Soviet strategy instead and will just throw more riders at the climbs until somebody gets a result on a good day. Duchesne, Barrio, and Levarlet will be the main forces toward advanced mediocrity there.

Of course, Repsol have not forgot about other terrains. Jurgen Roelandts is a very capable sprinter in this division, who would really benefit from even just one other mother*cking rider who has a top speed faster than a Lusitanian Slug. The guy is probably wondering where his signing bonus accounts for the 8 riders he's supposed to ride in place of on every flat stage.

Likewise, new import Sep Vanmarcke is a capable cobbled classics specialist in a division where "capable" simply isn't good enough to win races anymore. He'll score, but probably not much since nobody else on the team seems to have seen a cobblestone in their entire meaningless existence. I mean, there's Fabien Taillefour, who loves the rhetorical idea of cobbles, but goes into a catatonic fetal position when he realizes the stones protrude as tiny inclines in the road.

So this leaves me with the question, where are all the Spanish riders? I mean, I'm told this is a Spanish team. I didn't follow CT that closely, but, damn. Spanish riders are not an uncommon entity. I mean, there has to be somebody that fit the mold a little better than the guys they signed. Hey, I get it, not every team has a big regional focus. But still, having the rotting corpse of Luis Leon Sanchez as the main representative of your home nation is embarrassing and also smells really bad.

Repsol has revamped their entire roster after promoting, and that's admirable. Sure, they forgot that not supporting leaders on some terrains to the point that they don't even have water carriers can be an issue. Deaths from dehydration can lead to some nasty lawsuits, believe me. But as long as they have the money to deal with that, I think they have enough talent to maybe stay up - in the division, and in the MG competition for most inefficient diffusion of talent.

SPAR – Shimano – SCG

I'm not sure if it's a good sign or a bad sign, but SPAR apparently need three title sponsors in order to fund their team. It's a big budget project, with a lot of pure talent. Unfortunately, nobody has ever told any of those talented riders how to pedal at different speeds, a trend that could hurt them in every area this year.

Austrian arch-duke Stefan Denifl leads the team in the stage races. When you see him climbing, you'd think he was an all time great. His legs are capable of so much on the climbs. The one thing they aren't capable of is changing speeds. Word has it that his butthole actually has cement screws binding it to his saddle, and we'd never know any different since he's gone decades never getting out of it. Regardless, he should be around at every race he's in, and has decent support. But sometimes you need to actually try to make a gap in order to get a gap or avoid Serbian bullets, and apparently he's still unaware at 31.

In a bizarre twist, their main sprinter also has issues accelerating. Óscar Guerao is one the fastest in the peloton when it comes to the finish, and he only needs ten leadout men to get him up to speed. His top speed is crazy, though most of the time you'd never know it because he causes blocks guys his response to his opponents launch literally just blocks the road. With a pace lap or two he's pretty good, and he'll be able to score, as he's shown in the past, but well below potential. Oh yeah, and he loves long stage races, but gets tired in the slipstream of a local toddler's tricycle. I don't know either.

The team have a new duo on the cobbles, as sprinter/cobbles mix Alexandr Nepomnyachsniy is joined by hills/cobbles mix Tom David from Festina. Despite having a name so convoluted that even seeing it offends me personally, Nepo is very useful for easier cobbles races, though I've noticed a lot more guys like him as I've been previewing. David on the other hand can hold his own as a puncher, and should be good for hillier cobbled races. Neither of them are great favorite for the classics, but both are versatile outsiders when they need to be. It will be interesting to see if that strategy pays off.

Pello Bilbao is a very solid lead puncher with solid support, so he should score nicely if not brilliantly. His kick is actually pretty much as good as any sprinter on the team, which is kind of sad cause it's not that amazing. Matthias Brändle
is also worth a note. Not only is he an awesome time trialist, but he's a pretty good climber that could lead well in a few select places depending on planning. Unfortunately, he suffers from the fixed gear syndrome that seems to spread like the plague through this squad, so he'll hope to win as the tortoise rather than the hare.

Other than that, they have some really versatile depth guys that may not be super domestiques, but can help in a lot of different races. They also have a small assortment of young talent, led by Yevgeniy Gidich, who definitely forged his birth certificate and is actually 31 years old with a wife and kids. But I digress. His insane salary is a crutch for this year, but will be worth it if he improves on schedule.

Regardless of their money hungry sponsorship deals, SPAR - Shimano - SCG - *Insert more companies starting with S* are a pretty good team. They have unique leaders who should score pretty well, and the team is built well up and down. If it was not for the fatal flaw of needing to literally be towed to high speeds, they would be sure fire promoters. But unfortunately, their competitors won't need knives and daggers to kill their leaders with attacks, so they will underperform their potential.

Team Popo4Ever p/b Nemiroff

In the worst slavery ring since KONY 2012, Aleksandr Pluchkin has apparently captured and forced dozens of innocent Ukrainians to act as his personal soldiers in PCT this year. Many have never even seen a bike let alone ridden one, but not they will be guiding the Moldovan giant across his four race day schedule this season in the second division.

The story is very sad. Pluchkin, a former multi GT winner and world champion, is well above the stage racing competition in this division. So far above that almost all of his skills are superior to the next guy. Unfortunately, so is his pay grade. With no money to spend on other riders, Team Popo4ever - whose namesake apparently is not "4ever" on the team as he is actually retired - have resorted to abducting Eastern European youth and falsifying their birth certificates to be eligible to races. In America, we call this cruel and unusual punishment. At the team HQ, it's called "resource management."

Pluchkin does have a few notable helpers. Yevgeni Nepomnyachsniy (I don't know they're on two consecutive teams), Pluchkin's favorite toy, is a very adequate stage racer in his own right, and might be the only other guy that has a chance to lead on the terrain, do to his very balanced climbing/TT skills. Paolo Scarponi, Artem Topchanyuk, Mykhaylo Kononenko, Volodymyr Dzhus, and Adrian Nitu are the other capable guys who have given up their worldly possessions and bodily autonomy to devote themselves to their lord and savior Pluchking.

Holding over from before the Pluchkin cult is Oleksandr Prevar, who is a mid tier puncher leader at the very best, and with nothing setting him apart is likely actually worse. In exchange for drinking the Kool-Aid, he should be given the right to use some of his deity's domestiques, since he has been afforded none of his own. The top sprinter is Maciej Ulanowski, whose only motivation to sprint is to get to the finish faster, otherwise the hills, pace, or will of his holiness Pluchkin might force him to collapse on the side of the road. Oleksandr Golovash is a time trialist. Not one of the best, but should guarantee that the emperor never has to face the cold wind in his face in a TTT.

It's a sad tale indeed. A team hijacked by the pride of one man, risen to the level of immortal over his poor, helpless followers. Their roles reduced to a state of subhuman, with only one goal. Without any other attempt at scoring, will Pluchkin be able to carry them to promotion? No, clearly not. He can barely race, even if he wins every single one. And there's only one of him. Do I think the first ever double relegation in the history of MG is likely? No, probably not. Am I rooting for it? I wanna say no, but hell yeah. I want someone to prove once and for all that you can have a one leader team to succeed in this game, and it would be hilarious to see that happen to the same team not once, but twice.

Team Reddit

I browse Reddit daily, I'll admit. I enjoy the platform it allows. However, there's clearly a disconnect between the atmosphere of the website and its revenue. Last time I checked, Reddit was mainly funded by community donations and sponsorships. Apparently they're not funding Reddit at all, but overpaid cyclists on an anonymous MG team. Is that... ethical? You be the judge.

The team's crowned jewel is Alexey Lutsenko, and he's really good. He's an awesome puncher overall, but his real talent is the speed of his attack. He has been known to beat cars in short drag races with his acceleration, and his kick could split a mountain in half. This puts him at a significant advantage against guys with a similar skillset. Plus, he's only 26 years old, so he'll be doing this for a long time. Now, the bad. His contract is for 1,050,000 big ones this season. Yes, you counted that correctly. Over 1 mil for this guy. You'd think he was Jesus Christ riding his bike over the Sea of Galilee for that kind of money. He's an investment, and maybe they can get that salary down a little in the future, but especially if he's successful, I doubt it. For now, it's crippling the ambitions of the team.

Marlen Zmorka is the next leader on the time, in the time trials. Yes, he's very talented, and again, he's very young at only 25, but the PCT division is just so saturated with top time trialists this year. Wins will be few and far between I reckon, despite his skill. His comparative lack of climbing ability will hurt him in hilly TT's against the likes of Coppel and such, and he's effectively completely useless in any other role. I'm not saying he's bad, but when that's your second best leader, you need to consider some budget reallocation. At least he'll have a solid TTT squad behind him that could get some results, though again, those guys have a lack of versatility and ambition even surpassing simple things like staplers and my inner sorrow.

And that's where the party dies. Cameron Meyer is one of those sprinters that can't get up to his top speed too fast, but when he gets there he's... still below average. So basically, he sucks at his job overall, but is also especially bad at some parts of it. A great role model. And yeah, he's their only lead sprinter. Andrea Manfredi is theoretically their leader for mountains, but... come on. He would be better off ditching cycling for rock climbing because going directly up mountains with no other obstacles or people around is literally the only thing he's somewhat good at... and he's still way, way, waaaaaaaaay below the best at that.

At least there's some hope in other parts of the squad, including some useful depth guys and young talents. Lucas Manuel Gaday is a bright spot for the future. he's their top classics rider, and while he probably won't score much this year, he should be very good in the future with his diverse abilities in cobbles, hills, and sprints. Of course, that's if he ever gets there at all, since he needs to experience the top end of the sport, and is instead stuck on a mid table hopeful pro continental team. Yikes. Tick-Tock goes the internal clocks, both for his development and frustration with management. At least he'll collect a whopping 280k for his troubles.

This team relies on one guy, and that's Lutsenko. What's there not to like about Lutsenko? He's young, talented, and should even overperform given that his attacks send sparks flying behind him. Well, there's over 1 million dollars of wage cap, and frankly, that's what I don't like about him. Counting on one guy is bad. Counting on one guy who isn't far and away the most dominant of his rider type is even worse. Way, way worse. Without a ton of luck, looks like Team Reddit with be relegating off the front page of r/all. Unsubbed.

World Cycling Centre

It's been quite the roller coaster at the World Cycling Centre. After starting as a bottom of the barrel youth development team late in transfer 2016, they shot up the rankings to win the CT title last season. This season, they've promoted, and as a response, they've consciously decided to go back to being a development team for young talents... without young riders. Okay, that's not super fair, as many are out on loan, but still. Not much youth in the team, and not much talent either. I guess this is the part where the roller coaster goes underground?

Of course, it's not all ugly. David Boily leads the team again with his strange combination of mountain and hills. He's not a top puncher, and not a top climber. But in races where both are necessary, he can take advantage of the one dimensional attitudes of his rivals. The Canadian version of Kwiatek isn't nearly as appealing, but with good race selection he at least should score consistently. Additionally, he no longer has to be a top climber, because two big stage racers join the team.

"Big" for lack of a better term at least, because neither Natnael Berhane nord Jianhua Ji will be "big" in terms of scoring. First off, they are almost exactly the same rider - great pure climbers that can handle shorter hills too, but don't know where aero bars go on a TT bike and hit the snooze button instead of responding to attacks. Berhane is clearly the better of the two by a small margin, but in effect, they serve the same role. The formula of having two weaker GC guys when you miss out on the big one make sense, but it falls apart when they fill the exact same niche. Where are all these race days coming from? There are simply not enough pure mountain races on the circuit to make both of them viable. Chances are they will take turns leading while the other ones gets some snacks from the team car.

Carlos Betancourt has raw talent on the hills, and can compete near the top when he's on form. When being the key word. Last year he came into the year fat from partying all winter, like always, leading to what would be an extremely disappointing season. Minions actually staged a ceremonial sacrifice of his bike with some cannibalism on the side because of their immense hatred for him. At least with Boily around, he'll be able to pick his races better and really maximize scoring. It just proves this team is so fricking weird that rider diversity is their biggest strength in one discipline, and yet they completely ignored it in another.

Next, we move onto flat roads. Bumpy flat roads at least. Robert Bush is a cobbles specialist who can also sprint. Sam Harrison is a sprinter that can ride cobbles. What do they have in common? Well, they're both from Anglo countries. They both ride for WCC. And one last thing... that's right! They both don't have a hint of a chance of scoring as leaders in PCT. They're a nice duo that complement each other well, but there are simply too many similar rider types who are as good in the division, and too many guys that can win from pure strength on the cobbles. They'll get some minor placings if they're lucky, but don't look for repeats of last year in CT.

To make matters worse, Harrison also now has absolutely zero chance of performing in normal sprints. So, to complement him, the pure sprinters will need to stick around after the hills more than before. Jaime Alberto Castañeda is the faster one on paper, though Saulo Lay has the better kick, at least when he's able to overcome his fear of height more than 5m above sea level.

While WCC don't have many of their youngsters riding for them this season, which makes their status as the world's development team kind of strange, they are young. Most of their main leaders and role guys are in their mid to late 20's, and their depth guys are versatile and useful all over the calendar, so at least they do have a really big base to build on, though seeing as their national focus in anywhere but Europe (which would offend me if I was a stupid European), not sure where that base would be built.

World Cycling Centre spell their name differently than I would, but I'm willing to let that slide. What I can't slide is the blatant inconsistency in building of this team. The same team that managed to have two very different punchers who can complement each other across the calendar for only 430k has has two identical 3rd tier climbers for 625k. Combine that with sub par sprinters, no time trialists, and CT level cobblers, and you have issues. I love the unique rider types on this team for they are. They're fun. It will be a fun team to watch, though not sure about they're chances to avoid relegation. With riders like these and no clear game plan, it will all come down to race planning. Hopefully the smart side of the team's construction comes out there, for their sake.

Xero Racing p/b Octagon

Xero Racing? More like Zero Racing, cause that's how many points they're gonna score. Get it? Ha! I did it! I'm so glad I'm the first person to make that joke. We'll just skip over the fact that somehow an Octagon is powering this team. Powering what exactly, I don't know. Their riders sure seem to be out of power a lot.

I cannot even bring myself to properly express how bad this team would be if Peter Velits did not fall into their hands with a little pink bow in his hair. But he did, and what a gift he is. One of the top GC guys in the division - a fantastic climber with a good TT, good rhythm and good endurance. His drawback is that in his advanced age, he sees attacking as a petty and disrespectful antic of those damn kids. Therefore, refuses to participate. Seriously though, He might single handedly save this team, even with his flaws. The fact that the team could have very possibly been constructed without him is an astonishing show of bravery and stupidity. George Bennett will be his top helper on the climbs, and may get chances for himself too, with Abolfazl Gilanipoor also worth a mention... at least on this team.

Next we have the sprinters - two guys with below average speed for leaders who try to make it up in other ways. Luke Rowe is a flat beast who can ride cobbles well too, and uses that adaptable nature to score when he probably shouldn't. Similarly, Tosh Van der Sande excels in long, grueling stages, and ca make it over hills, although not to the extent where is could really make him a favorite on any given stage. The latter especially is very overpaid, and planning alone with not be enough to save the duo's scoring. The fields will just be too strong unless they actually take out half the sprinters against them, but the MGUCI has a xero tolerance policy towards that kind of thing.

After those guys, the drop off is insane. And I know what you're thinking: but bbl, you've only mentioned a full guys and all but one are below average anyway! And yes, they are. That's why I said it was crazy this team could have been in PCT without Velits. I had to dig deeper than ever before to make this preview enough paragraphs to not feel bad about my effort level.

Anthony Roux is one of the worst puncher leaders in the division. Originally I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt because he loves to attack and he's young. Then I realized it's not 2011 anymore and the dude is 31 years old, so there goes that bargaining. Mekseb Debesay is a guy to look for in the coming years. He can ride hilly and cobbled classics well, and has a great acceleration, but the fact is he won't score much yet this year. You can try to go down further to a TT/hilly combo guy like Stanislau Bazhkou, but I mean, come on now. We're really grasping at straws here. I'm just saying names hoping they'll mean something at this point. I'd eat my own chain ring if any of these guys score more than an undisclosed amount of points I can make up after the fact.

Wow, this team is bad. Really bad. They won't score zero points, though they may deserve to. Velits will make sure of that. Falling into their hands for an insanely little amount late on in the transfer season. And yet even with a gift big enough for every childhood Christmas combined, the team still sucks. It's uncanny. Looks like they should be an amateur team with a bigger budget. Relegation here they come. Xero/10.
Edited by baseballlover312 on 21-08-2018 05:20
RIP Exxon Duke, David Veilleux, Double Feature, and Monster Energy

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Ayubowan!

The first team alphabetically might also finish first, or at least that's what everyone else tells me, cause they're the first team I'm looking at, and I really have no idea where they'll end up. They also have an exclamation point, which makes me excited about the idea of them finishing first. The subliminal messaging is sensational.

As always, a quick DB check is necessary to see what division the Sri Lankan team this year. It's been different every year I've been in the game, which is pretty confusing. They bounce back and forth faster than an Olympic table tennis ball. I guess they'll be looking to keep that trend going and promote again straight away, so they can enjoy another relegation fight.

This year, that promotion is looking pretty good. Of course the nationality focus is apparent in leaders like Monsalve, Yates, McCarthy, Lander, Carthy... wait. I guess when the team decided to cross the Rhine and wipe out their French contingent, they were serious. With Petit gone, only one French talent remains, and Sri Lankan leaders don't grow on trees. International it is then.

In any case, they have a really strong GC squad. Yonathan Monsalve is a beast in PCT. A total diesel on climbs who survives hills well, and isn't even too shabby on the TT bike. Not the best in the division, but top tier. Should be in for a share of GC fights. I think Adam Yates is the real key here though. One of the best secondary leader in the division. Almost as good as Monsalve. Not as good on the mountains, but has a better kick. With good planning, those two could rack up crazy points. Oh, and their 3rd mountain guy, Hugh Carthy, is still better than my top climber, and isn't even maxed yet. Carthy will be preparing to take Monsalve's spot on the team next year without a doubt, as rumor has it all Ayubowan riders are euthanized once they reach the age of 30.

Mountains are definitely their best terrain, but Jay McCarthy should be super impressive on the hills too. Once again, he's only 26. As one of the top punchers in the peloton, I would expect him to have ample support, but... nope. Might be some regrets if he's isolated too early at points, or has to defend a leaders jersey. Unless Turgis takes some rapid aging pills, Gihan Pushpakumara is McCarthy's top support. Are you worried? Cause I'd be worried.

That's kind of where the big points end though I think. Sebastien Lander, AKA Danish Adrien Petit, should be able to score some decent results in the easier cobbled races with his good intangibles. As their best sprinter, I wouldn't count on him though. His sprint is CT level in this day and age, and his hill is good, but not good enough to outlast most other big guns. They'll be led by an attacking Sri Lankan in Sameera Chatarung on the cobbles, which should be fun. Wouldn't expect many results, but should show the jersey. Finally, Josh Atkins joins the squad as their best time trialist. Still not anything special though, and they have no depth for TTT's.

Overall, it's pretty obvious that Ayubowan! are one of the best teams in the peloton going uphill. They'll be counting on that, as they lack significant point scorers in other disciplines. They have some great leaders, but their plan to have those guys babysitting young Sri Lankans on the road all year is a little peculiar given promotion ambitions. All in all, the team is good, but dare I say a little... overrated? I think they'll be in the promotion fight, but not seeing a division winner here. Of course, maybe I should look at the other 25 teams before I make assertions like that...

Azteca - NBCSN

Azteca were on team that managed to bounce back from relegation and excel at the CT level last year, and now, those same guys are ready to take on PCT as well! ...literally though. Certainly Azteca has had a revamp when looking at their roster. They've only got 6 guys who rode for them last season on the roster, excluding loanouts. Unfortunately, most of those 6 are key players this year, even leaders, at a level up.

We start with Ryan Eastman, who has trained hard this winter to be even better up long climbs. This should help him score, but it hasn't made him into too much of a beast either. He's still a really nice climber with a solid time trials and a lacking punch up short climbs. He's improved from CT, but enough to carry the team? Good luck. At least he's still only 26, as the genetic monstrosity has been riding at max form since he slept in a cradle.

Eastman's backup guys are really solid. Robbie Squire is the main lieutenant, and could well attack on his own if there's issues. Mannion, Stetina, and even Oscar Solis could make a fearsome train on the mountains with Eastman, and as a bonus, they'll be right there suffering with him when he cracks on the hills. Of course, that is if they're even in the race with him. With 9 full time Lvl 1-2 talents on the team fighting for chances at experience, they might be forced to leave the team bus while the team manager sets up play dates with the managers of all his loanees.

Other than that, I'm not sure where Azteca is gonna score. Raúl "Best Secondary Sprinter" Granjel Cabrera is the primary sprinter, so that's not gonna win awards. He'll be looking to plan well and snag opportune points.Esteban Chaves is an awesome rider for hilly races that are a little more mountainous than normal. In that niche he should do very well, but opportunities won't be too plentiful given his poor backups, and as their best puncheur, he'll need to represent on all major hilly races if they wanna contend. Not sure that's their plan, but I guess we'll see. Squire is a good complement too him as well, if he doesn't overshadow him.

Finally, time trials and cobbles have been completely ignored. You accept that from a team with super strong leaders on other terrains, but as Azteca lacks that, it will probably hurt them even further. Depth isn't on their side either outside of the mountain train, and the fact that they have to stick useless prospects in so many races. A couple of solid puncheur helpers is all they've got there. They have a ton of those talents though, some of which are actually there's. That will keep the future looking bright at least, however far away it is. It's gonna be a long season for them. But hey, I heard they have a nice core for CT promotion.

Azteca may relegate. They probably will. But if all goes well and luck is in their favor, they may have a solid PCT team by the time most of you have gone gray and I can hopefully grow an actual beard.

Carlsberg - Danske Bank

I'm not old enough to drink alcohol in my country, so I can't tell you if Carlsberg is a mediocre beer or not. What I can tell you is that they'll be very lucky if they sponsor a mediocre cycling team this year. Somehow this team had all the chances to improve on last year, and didn't where it matters.

In a circumstance that shows God has no mercy for the weak anymore, Frederik Nolf is still on this team. At least he won't be leading anymore. Pieter Vanspeybrouck is the new guy on the block, and he'll be leading the cobbles squad, the team's only legitimate "strength." VSB seems to be one of the best classics guys in the division on paper, so if he doesn't underperform like every race for the last five year, he'll be a really good pickup. Ramon Sinkeldam also joins the crew for the hillier races. He'll be a pretty nice asset while he looks back to see Nolf dropped on the inclines. I'm sure he was so excited to find that the team transferring him in had big plans for him as a third wheel.

Last year, Christopher Juul-Jensen over performed to finish near the top of the PCT division, and that's not happening again. I mean come on guys, this guy has an awesome kick, but there are like 50 better puncheurs in the division. I think they might actually grow on trees or something. Like De Maar 2015, he was a great feel good story, but he's in for a major regression to the mean. At least the depth behind him exists. Speaking of De Maar, apparently he can't cash in his pension yet, because for some reason he's still racing this season.

On the sprinter side, Danish fans have finally gotten their wish. After four long years, Asbjørn Kragh Andersen has finally reached his full potential... as a mediocre sprinter looking for minor placings at best. He joins Davide Appollonio, another mediocre sprinter looking for minor placings. Together they make the most mediocre sprinter duo ever. What an honor. Also joining the sprint train is Thomas Vedel Kvist. He'd be a nice option for easier cobbled races too if the team didn't have five guys blocking that role from existing. So, what's the point of him exactly?

No other important leaders. They almost have a full collection of average Danish time trialists, so hopefully they'll max that out for the Armada coins. They certainly could use a gold pack right now. Also, after desperately needing a GC guy after last season, they've somehow gotten even worse on the terrain. Marc Christian Garby will be very lonely on the longer climbs - far ahead of his teammates, and far behind his competitors.

If there's one positive, it's that Carlsberg are more infused with youth this year. They now have enough young talents to field a full l'Avenir team, and then some. That's super nice, so a few years from now when they've reached their full potential, they'll have even more mediocre helpers to score 25 points a year and look good in a couple of breaks. How exciting!

Yeah, Carlsberg are probably relegating. They didn't last year somehow. They were given a second chance, and this happened. They had a few too many cold ones to drink in the offseason. Now this team looks like the puke and the hangover. Good luck downsizing again next year!
 
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Booker
Savagery....love it

Have to say, think the first 3 are spot on - and having had a deeper look at the DB in recent days, I tend to agree with your overrated assessment of Ayubowan (though I have been one of those ‘rating’ them)

I hope you roast my squad until all our weakass leaders go crying home to their stationary bikes, and get back to work!
 
trekbmc
:lol:

Awesome read, a little bit reminiscent of Brewer’s EPIC preview, really looking forward to the rest now!

Do feel like you were a little harsh on your own guys though Pfft



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jph27
Booker wrote:
Savagery....love it

Have to say, think the first 3 are spot on - and having had a deeper look at the DB in recent days, I tend to agree with your overrated assessment of Ayubowan (though I have been one of those ‘rating’ them)

I hope you roast my squad until all our weakass leaders go crying home to their stationary bikes, and get back to work!


I'll tell you what is really overrated, depth Pfft

Really enjoyed your previews so far, keep them coming Baseball! Interesting points you raise about my team, with the comments on the lack of support for McCarthy and our weakness outside of climbs. In truth the lack of a second tier puncheur is tactical, as I found in the last two seasons that Bellis held Gautier and then McCarthy back from attacking. With Lander and Kemboi as sprint leaders rather than anyone with a high sprint stat, that too is tactical - past experience has shown that riders like Van der Sande and Hoffman do better in the PCT than the quicker but less well rounded riders, so I figured it was a gamble worth taking.

In truth my aim for the season is just promotion rather than the title - after all I have 12 unmaxed riders who need babysitting. Could have quite easily built a much stronger squad for this season and romped to the title, but decided to build for the long term in the expectation of promoting anyways with a stronger team before I even start transfers - as a taster, next season Ranaweera will be a 78/73/74 stage racer, Turgis and Bettiol at 77 and 75 HIL respectively, Kumara at 75COB and Kemboi and Perera both at 79SP.
 
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Carrefour - ESPN

Coppel and the Comets. It sounds like an early 1960's rock and roll band, but it's actually a PCT MG team this year. Apparently In-N-Out finally realized their customers were too fat to care about cycling, so they've been replaced with ESPN, who strangely won't even show highlights from a sport they now officially sponsor.

Jerome Coppel is the big edition here, and he's an absolute stud. I have no idea what the hell he's doing in this division. It's actually insane. He's the best pure time trialist in the world. Not bad on hills either to boot, so he's the favorite for pretty much every TT he rides this year, outside of the mountains. I heard the guy wipes with stop watches after he takes a crap. He's been around forever, and he's still riding at peak form. Will he ever start to decline? We may never know. Well, actually, my scouts say he's gonna decline right at the end of this year. So they've opened up a pretty small window here, but the view is pretty.

Onto the comets then. I don't know if people ever compare sprinters to comets either, but it was the first bit of alliteration that came to my head, so that's what we're going with. Three (!) huge sprinters transferred in this off season ready to make their mark. Of course, there literally aren't enough race days for them all to do that much, but it definitely sounds cool.

The biggest name is Ivano Lo Cicero, who they picked up from free agency after he was released by relegating Valio. Lo Cicero has a fearsome top speed for sure, and he only needs to launch his sprint from 500 meters out to have a chance at reaching it! Lo Cicero had a monster 2016 that had many people calling him the G.O.A.T. Then in 2017 he looked like a literal goat trying to ride a bike. I guess Carrefour better hope they get more of the prior. To complement him, we've got Romain Vanderbiest and Adrien Petit lined up right behind - two more potential leaders. Together, they can all go 0->60 in barely a full hour. They're great sprinters, but no acceleration. I'm sure they'll still all score when they have opportunities, but I wouldn't count on them beasting the division. At least they all complement each other's sprinter types, so they can lead each other out if planning goes that direction. Of course, that would make all the random 5th tier sprinters worthless.

That's where the fun ends it seem. I looked for a climber - no luck. Looks like we have a fear of heights. I looked for a puncheur - I found Andre Palini, who probably crapped himself at the very idea of leading a PCT team. He's not bad on any given day, but most agree he has the intangibles of a clean pig. I looked for a cobbler - I see Damien Gaudin, who is extremely confused that no one has told him who he's supposed to be helping this year. Maybe Petit can help in the two race days that feature easy cobbles and no hills? 3 terrains completely ignored. 3 terrains with a lot of points throughout the season.

Depth wise, I'd say it's worse. There's a truckload of those 5th tier sprinters I mentioned, and only one or two could possibly be necessary per race. Certainly there must have been better ways to spend that money that can actually score. Depth in other disciplines doesn't exist. Even with Coppel, only Wen Hao Li is another good TT guy on the team, so it's a wasted TTT opportunity. There's a few young talents getting race days, but sadly, most of them are on loan, and won't even be on the team when they max.

Carrefour is certainly an interesting approach. It's a fun team to look out and say - wow they've done something different. But contrary to what your mom told you when you were little, different isn't always better. With the introduction of disc brakes and hopefully no crashes this year, Coppel at least can rely on a bunch of stage and GC victories without much risk. With good planning, the sprinters should score good too, even if Lo Cicero drops another fat egg. With good planning, they should steer clear of the relegation fight. With bad planning, they have a warm, soft bed of nails to fall back on.

cycleYorkshire

Today I learned that cycleYorkshire apparently have a stake in Hong Kong. That's peculiar, as they have no riders from there and only one from Asia. I guess they just go there for fun in the offseason or something.

Regardless, their team has certainly seen a shakeup this season following promotion. Louis Meintjes was looking for a decent paycheck this offseason. They held up ten million bags of gold instead, and how could he refuse? He's a good climber who doesn't mind any real gradient or length, but isn't great on the TT bike. Word has it that he trained hard after not being able to save his former team from folding last season, so he has a better kick now - still not good though. He's a nice GC leader for this division, but... 3/4 of a million? Yikes. He's only 26, so they're gonna have a hard time trying to ever negotiate him down now in future years. He's got two lieutenants in Tvetcov and Kennaugh that are also solid and built in sort of the same mold, with the former maybe getting opportunities for himself, depending on if the race days line up for it.

On the hills, Jonathan Bellis is the guy transferring in from Ayubowan! He's had a lot of success in MG before, and although the level of competition has risen, I think he'll continue to have some, although word is that he might literally be riding every hilly race completely alone, as other guys on the team suffer anaphylaxis from allergies to the terrain. On cobbles, Andrew Fenn and Scott Thwaites make a fun duo. I actually think Thwaites is the bigger scorer this year due to his versatility and the strength of cobbles in the division. It's kind of funny that guys much worse on the cobbles and not much better at sprinting plan on competing with him in those races. Andreas Stauffis the lead sprinter, and should be decent at wheel hopping in flat races. He has a really fast kick, which is nice to see and gives him an advantage when going alone. That's important, cause Matt Rowe is his main lead out, and it would take him ten years to catch up to Stauff in a straightaway.

Lastly, this is one team with amazing TT depth. Working the TTT squad together like a well oiled chain ring. Durbridge, Viennet, Tennant, Stannard and Robert is an amazing squad. There's so many of them I though it would be weird to bold them. But then I thought they're too good not to, so I did it anyway. They're gonna destroy TTT's. Hopefully not in stage races that Meintjes is in though because he would be left behind faster than you can say overpaid.

Overall, I like this team. I'll just admit that. They at least have a leader for every terrain, which is always fun and refreshing, though they lack depth in most areas as well. They've also stayed true to their regional focus, with some notable exceptions. That is, except the mystery of Hong Kong. In for a solid mid table finish unless they really screw it up.

Euskaltel - Elior

We all remember the original Euskaltel team back in the day. Dozens of Basque climbers, conquering mountains together and alone, through countless attacks and gritty defense. What an image. Unfortunately, that image died long ago. What we have before us instead is nothing short of a mockery of that image. It's a monstrosity to anyone who believed in that underdog regional focus.

The current iteration of Euskaltel literally has ONE BASQUE RIDER. ONE. I looked it up. I checked every guy. I was hoping for a miracle. Alex Aranburu is the only guy on this team from the Basque Country. They don't even have a real Spanish or French leader. Now, ok, I get this is a different team. Maybe they're going more international in an effort to build a championship caliber team. You would certainly hope so. But nope, we have the following mess instead.

The best rider on this team is Damiano Caruso. That's the first red flag. He's an okay puncheur with an awesome kick who loves to attack, but come on! I heard he injects EPO into his saddle as placebo to make him feel like he can compete with the big guns. His major helped is Zingle, if he is a different rider at all. Complementing him in the sprints is Moreno Moser, who is a really solid and somewhat versatile sprinter, though not one of the best. Unfortunately, he's already been punched repeatedly by flyweight prizefighter Nacer Bouhanni since joining the team.

Dominique Cornu is a really awesome time trialist, but it's impossible to see him with a shot at winning much when Coppel is in the same division. Similarly, Magno Nazaret might do well on a few mountain stages, but his fear of hills and TT's makes him very subpar as a GC guy. Milos Borisavljevic, on the other hand, is very well rounded, but simply can't climb well enough to compete at this level.

They have a lot of good young talents, that's for sure. Their l'Avenir squad is great, and there are many future leaders in their ranks. That's the one thing they're counting on. Unfortunately though, none of their current guys have talent, and current talent scores points. Without points being scored, they're going to relegate. Then they're going to have a bunch of high priced talents and nowhere to put them on a CT team. They're going to end up losing a fair few of them anyway! Those future leaders may not be in their ranks when it actually matters. I get the fun in being a development geared team, but this is like shooting yourself in the foot, paying millions for a top of line prosthetic, and then shooting that off too. It's not like they even have any solid guys to build on now, because all their "leaders" are actually pretty old.

Is this the worst team I've ever seen? No. I've fielded worse myself. But it's a disappointing team. They have no regional focus despite having weak leaders. Now you may say that this is MG and they don't need to have a regional focus if they don't go that direction, but I personally want them to, and that's all that matters. They have talents, but I think we'll be seeing half of them actually maxed on the team in the future. And that's a waste. This team is a waste of that bright orange mirage which still brings a smile to my face, only for the tears to follow.
Edited by baseballlover312 on 12-08-2018 17:28
RIP Exxon Duke, David Veilleux, Double Feature, and Monster Energy

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Atlantius
Lo Cicero has a fearsome top speed for sure, and he only needs to launch his sprint from 500 meters out to have a chance at reaching it! Cicero had a monster 2016 that had many people calling him the G.O.A.T. Then in 2017 he looked like a literal goat trying to ride a bike.

:lol:

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ember
This is absolutely brilliant to read! Grin Love how you mix the MG universe with drips and drops from the reality, and then also giving an honest opinion on all teams you've posted so far.

Think you're spot on for Carrefour - ESPN. It will be really interesting to see how they line up their sprinters, and if Petit will do leadouts or try his own luck in other races than Lo Cicero.

Looking forward for what's to come on the pro continental teams, and then fingers crossed you do one for CT and PT as well, it's great stuff!
 
Aquarius97
I'm enjoying the read a lot bbl! Can't wait to see what you have to say about my team :lol:
Manager of [MG] Repsol - Netflix

Manager of [ICL] Wilier Triestina

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Heine
I love this Grin Been missing previews like this since we lost Crommy

Edit: Do this for all divisions! Good to have a laugh
Edited by Heine on 13-08-2018 09:44
 
jandal7
Love it bbl - eagerly awaiting (damn alphabet!) my team's turn under the fire!
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23/11/18 - Kaustubh Bhalerao said "@Trek Bmc r u being srs or u are just natruallly dumb"


[ICL] Santos-Euskadi | The Life And Times | [PCT] i.imgur.com/c85NSl6.png Xero Racing p/b Octagon
[CX] Listerijns & BoK
The Carbon Throne

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Bikex
Great job so far bbl! Looking forward to see what you have to say about SPAR, hope you are not too mean. Pfft

Is this the worst team I've ever seen? No. I've fielded worse myself

Grin
 
sammyt93
I'm loving it so far, I hope you have time to do a CT one as I'd love to see my team roasted.
 
baseballlover312
Thank you to everyone for the kind words! Glad you like it even though it's a little edgy.

Not sure I'll be able to do PT or CT at this point, as this previews are more time consuming than I originally planned. But it all depends on how fast the season comes!
RIP Exxon Duke, David Veilleux, Double Feature, and Monster Energy

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knockout
Alright, lets delay the season for another month until you could do the PT rants as well. Great stuff!
 
sammyt93
knockout wrote:
Alright, lets delay the season for another month until you could do the PT rants as well. Great stuff!


How long do we have to wait until TMM gets back and can do his planning? Is that going to buy enough time for the CT Roast?
 
baseballlover312
Fablok - Bank BGZ

After just missing out at promotion last season, Fablok are back and trying to make another go of it to make the promise land of the PT. Now, this isn't your father's PCT team! It's your grandfather's. These riders are so old the only footage from their U23 days is on black and white silent film. The strategy this year seemed to be to watch their riders get worse as they become the perennial retirement home of the division.

That's not to say they don't have good leaders. Erik Mohs, 32, is one of the best pure sprinters in the division, without a doubt. Not versatile, but with his kick, he doesn't have to be to score. They'll be counting on him for their biggest load of points this year I reckon, and it's probably his last at the top. Backing him up with be Andrea Guardini. At 29, Guardini has effectively just emerged from the womb in the context of this squad, so hopefully he doesn't trip over all the canes and walkers on the team bus before the races. Together, they make on the top sprinter duos in the division, and they have a couple of good leadouts too.

On the hills we have the shell of Chris Froome, 33, who has clearly seen some skills diminish over the offseason. He's still a good puncheur, but he's losing it in the backup areas of his discipline, and that will hurt him this year. He should still have sufficient domestiques at least, as the team has solid depth on the terrain.

Mikael Ignatiev, 33, is the big edition. He too has declined over the transfer season, and that 375k contract is looking pretty big to me. He's still a great time trialist who can climb decently and has an awesome acceleration. That should place in highly in hilly TT stage races. If only Jerome Coppel wasn't hanging out in the division as literally the exact same guy, but better all around. At least with Goldstein and some others, they have a solid TTT squad to fall back on.

I think the biggest loss will be Nicolas Roche, 34. He's clearly been declining the past few years, but his role has not been diminished. He's made up for his long of endurance on longer climbs with his punch in the past to match the other stage racers, but now he's not with the best on either terrain. This guy was barely outclimbing domestiques in training camp this past week. Maybe he's got a bit of fight left in him, but I'm not sure he'll suffice as a GC leader anymore. I'd even garner to say Pawel Poljanski is the better climber by now, though TT bikes are known to give him a bad case of the runs.

This has to be the year for Fablok. It has to be. You can't have any more wrinkles on the team and think you have a shot at winning. it's now or never. There's not a single unmaxed rider on this team. There's no one waiting in the wings for their chance. They're going to be in for a rebuild after this season for sure. They're only hope is that they can do it with a fresh budget and clean slate in PT, and don't end up sitting in PCT or worse for a few years more instead. Unfortunately for them though, they didn't make it before, and I'm not sure their team is better now, even with Ignatiev. I think they're gonna just miss out unless a lot of teams fold, and to them that's a death wish, with most of their riders soon reaching life expectancy.

Generali - EDF

Generali is generally a good team. Now that my first grade level pun is out of the way, and most of you probably didn't even notice it, let's get to the meat of the preview. This team has a lot of riders. Supposedly they have to sleep 5 guys to a single bed in their hotel rooms, but that's okay since that sort of space limitation helps them "bond" for TTT performances.

The TTT squad is their prized jewel, so I'll address it first - it's good. It's very good, indeed. They have a bunch of guys who can time trial well, and when they all do one of those time trials where they're all together at the same time, the ability to time trial helps them to do well in such races. Hence, they will do well in team time trials, when such events are in the race calendar that they chose to participate in. In fact, I would expect good results in such races, given the perceived abilities of their team to excel in such a discipline.

They actually have other riders, the biggest being Primož Roglič. He's a really nice climber, on a pretty solid wage, who's still not too old. A very solid GC threat. The weakest part of his game is his time trial - and that's just beyond funny to me. I can't even express how hilarious that is to my small, easily amused brain.

Beyond that, they have Diego Ulissi, who rides 10,000 km's every morning as a training ride. He's a great puncheur for this division - good kick, likes to attack, can power over flat sections with ease, and once road across the entire Silk Road in order to cool down from a hilltop finish. He's also got some really good support across the board. Some of those guys that are good at time trialing apparently also can do other things, like climb hills, without being to bad at doing such tasks. Late transfer season pickup Rafael Silva, who was signed on the black market after being sacked, has a really awesome combination of sprinting and hill climbing ability. He should be able to really excel in races with fewer than one stage.

Edward Theuns has spent the entire last 3 months sleeping on cobblestones in an effort to "understand them" better, and while it may have forced him to take a trip to a mental health services facility, it worked. This guy's combination of sprint, cobbles, and hill skills is very impressive, and he's got a bright future at 27. There's a fair few races he could really do well in, though given the strength of the division on cobbles this year, and his utter lack of any support at all, I'm not sure he'll really destroy the races this year.

Generali are an alternatively thinking team to the main, and I like that. They have a lot of riders, and a lot of very versatile riders who may not necessary excel in one area, but can find their niche and really score points in a lot of places. I think that's fun. Because of this tactic, race planning will decide their fate. They'll be safe from relegation no matter what I think, but whether they end up in the promotion fight will depend on how they plan their leaders and domestiques throughout the year to maximize point scoring potential. There's a lot of different ways they can go with it. Except for TTT's of course, where they actually have a full team of riders who are especially proficient at riding that type of race, in comparison to other teams.

Iberia - Team Degenkolb

After leading the team to an awesome season of relegation, John Degenkolb has apparently still earned the right to have a team named after him. If they have faith in him, I guess we all should? How the hell does that even work, though? Does Degenkolb have a company? Is he paying his slary back into the team just to have his name in the title? Does he forego a raise in order to have his name there? Is he granting surprise sexual favors to the team staff at training camp? What is Iberia getting out of this?

Regardless, Degenkolb is the top guy here. He's the top sprinter in PCT, and one of the top sprinters in the world. He's fits the sprinter mold perfectly, and is amazing at it. And while not extremely versatile, he's not especially weak at surviving other obstacles for a sprinter either. He's got two nice leadouts guy too. Unfortunately, there's a downside though. The MGUCI only lets him ride 36 days all year. So that's a lot of places he won't get to show his dominance. And when you're taking up that much wage cap, it can be a pretty big deal to only be in a 3rd of the possible race days on your terrain. It will limit him more than anyone seems to notice. At least his moustache sponsors the team.

Adam Blythe transfers from Puma, but I guess he doesn't get his name in the title of the team even though he's arguably as good. He's probably the best cobbles rider in the division this year, and he also packs and nice sprint to finish it off from small groups. He's got a few nice support riders to, so he won't be winging it. I reckon he might actually score as much as Degenkolb. It's crazy, I know. I haven't even looked at the point scales and I'm pretty sure it's impossible. But I needed a hot take cause it's been a while, so there it is.

And that's where the team ends I guess. Blythe and Degenkolb ride along with their goons and that's the whole team. Now, you might be thinking that I'm missing Ion Izagirre, but I think he's the one missing something here - talent. Yes, the guy can climb up hills pretty fast. Yes, he backs that up with handling longer climbs well. Yes, he's a good time trialist. All sounds good. What's missing is that a space shuttle could travel to Mars and back in the time it takes Izagirre to respond to an attack. In hilly races, attacks are going off all the time. That's how you win. Maybe he has no gears or something, but it's unacceptable at this level. So while he will do well in hilly/TT combos for GC, I wouldn't count him as they star they trained him to be.

And... that's the team. Climbers? Who needs them! Time trialists? Nope. The team have some good young talents, and Latour should fill that GC void eventually, but for now, They have 2 or 3 guys who can score and that is it. Depth isn't great either, though their main leaders have helpers, and that's what matters I guess.

This is another team that I view as overrated. Sure, Blythe and Degenkolb are some of the best in the division - for 70 race days. There's a lot more than that out there. You're basically counting on those two never having a bad day. Yeah, they're awesome, but there's tough competition too. The best guy doesn't win every day. Will they be in the promotion fight? Probably, yeah. But I wouldn't bet money on them. Too risky. Almost as risky as putting a star rider's name in your team name, then relegating, and still doubling down on it...
RIP Exxon Duke, David Veilleux, Double Feature, and Monster Energy

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