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PCT Roundtable Analysis 2022 p/b “The Conglomerate”
Guess who’s back, back again? The Conglomerate are back, tell 66 managers!

With Eminem out of the way, let us proudly bring to you our PCT preview for the 2022 MG season, which is now our sixth year of doing this epic shit. This preview was created as a cooperation between AbhishekLFC, Croatia14, jandal and knockout.

This preview consists of four parts:

1. Review of 2021: Last season we posted a similar preview and we want to review some of our statements from last season for a fact check, as well as seeing how our final predictions stacked up against the real rankings.

2. Questions of the season: We discussed several important questions for the season in a Roundtable format where four of us gave our own point of view on certain topics. All questions discussed here are questions relating to the entire division. The number of questions have been reduced from previous editions of this preview.

3. Overview of the squads: This section consists of two parts:
3a: Team talking points: We sat down and spoke about each of the teams. Sometimes we made sense, mostly it was blabbering monologues.
3b: Grades per terrain: We all tried to rate the strength of each team on each terrain to give an overview about how strong we rate the teams on the terrains. We included points in a "hybrid terrain" category when the team has riders that are stronger on any hybrid terrains than in the specialized races.

We also tried to come up with a ranking based on the grades of part 3b.

4. Final predictions: Every predictor tried to predict the final ranking table after we looked intensively at each team. These rankings are fully subjective.

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Part 1a: Review of our 2021 Predictions

We start off by recalling some of our predictions for the 2021 season (including some quotes), mostly to let you know how seriously you should take us. FYI, we take this very seriously!
What did we predict for the PCT in 2021?

Prediction 1: We all picked Carlsberg to be the best of the promoted teams, with one of us hedging his bets to mixed effect…

AbhishekLFC: Carlsberg has taken the cake, with especially the signings of Guldhammer and Trentin.

knockout: The thing that impresses me the most is the collective quality of the promoted teams (…) but I’ve got to agree with Abhishek that Carlsberg looks the strongest.

Croatia14: Looking at the team squad you gotta pick Carlsberg with two PT-worthy leaders and good depth. really like what Nemolito did with Los Pollos Hermanos, a clear focus on long-term leaders (Manninen & Zmorka) and short term safety (Spilak). Also let me mention Bralirwa for combining a PCT.worthy squad with strengthening the regional focus. (...) Tryg is my “winner” though, despite paying A LOT they got some huge leaders in Wellens and Skujins that should be a perfect base to build on for a promotion push to PT over the next two years.

Fact: At the end of June, we must have all been doing our arm stretches in preparation to pat ourselves on the back, but in the last few months of the year Carlsberg fell from 4th to 12th. It was Croatia’s second team of Los Pollos who moved into that spot and achieved back-to-back promotions… However his “winner” in Tryg - Ritter Sport came home in 25th, just one spot off of last! Bralirwa also beat out Carlsberg, coming inside the Top 10 after a very impressive year.

Prediction 2: We called out Indosat, Jura, Philips, Sauber, Carrefour, Binance, Cedevita, Eurosport and Podium Ambition as main contenders for relegation, with Bralirwa, Los Pollos and Red Bull possibly in the mix.

knockout: Two of the most at risk teams are Jura - Fiat and Indooosat OoooredoooO who both rely strongly on the scoring of their highest earning leader and I’m not entirely convinced that they are strong enough to carry enough of their team on their back.

Croatia14: …Going by my puncheur thesis, I think that Eurosport, Cedevita and Philips might be in trouble. I fear Carrefour, Binance and Jura-Fiat may have some trouble due to hill constraints, but I can see some surprise relegations and almost every team needs to watch its backs this year. Podium Ambition went for the risk of neglecting several terrains,...

jandal: Aside from the names mentioned already since it’s so open I’ll with a heavy heart throw out the names of Bralirwa (who have a great likeable squad but lack a bit of oomph for me and will need their lesser names to step up or their leaders to go nuts) and even Los Pollos if their leaders don’t fire and, dare I say it… Red Bull.

Fact: Oh jandal! Jura, Eurosport, Carrefour and Podium Ambition did relegate. Los Pollos promoted to PT! The Evonik curse was real!!

Prediction 3: We picked Aker, Polar and cycleYorkshire as the most likely to get promoted.

Fact: Well done to us!

Prediction 4: We said Carlsberg had the best transfer window. We also thought Tryg had done well, with Aker and Red Bull also mentioned. Los Pollos and cycle Yorkshire also got a mention.

Croatia14:: The easy answer would be Carlsberg as probably the strongest promoted team. But at the same time their leaders are 32, so I go for a team that did very well building a base for the future. Wellens and Skujins are awesome to build on if you can avoid relegation. Cedevita brought in awesome talents, Project Africa possibly got the biggest bargain in Bobridge. My choice goes with Red Bull Zalgiris forever. They sold their old riders well, ensured good leaders and signed great young guns like Leknessund and Halvorsen for really cheap. That was a considerable effort well done.

AbhishekLFC: Carlsberg for me with Tryg being the conditional second. I like what Los Pollos did as well with leaders (barring Maksimov) but a lot of their success depends on the game I think, which is unfortunate.

Fact: Los Pollos were the runaway winners with Manninen and Zmorka both in the top 5. Bralirwa next with two (Silvestre and Stallaert) in the Top 12. Carlsberg had their top two in 14th and 15th place in the final standings. Wellens did well for Tryg, Skuijns did not.
Part 1b: Review of our 2021 Predicted Rankings:

Here we could write a long post explaining what we predicted, but a table says more than a thousand words. Let’s see how we stacked up against the final rankings:

4Los Pollos Hermanos161418178
15Project: Africa1815161411
16Assa Abloy827620

ab = AbhishekLFC
ja = jandal
cr = Croatia
ko = knockout
so = statistical outcome
Part 2: General Season Questions

Compare PCT 2022 to PCT 2021

AbhishekLFC: The biggest change is of course the influx of stage racers and outflow of punchers. Last year’s puncher field was quite ridiculous but it isn’t so deep this time around. The opposite is true for stage racers. Cobbles is also an area that’s gone down in strength, with more versatility perhaps being the go-to strategy for a lot of managers. A lot of the attention this time, perhaps went into targeting strong TT riders, who are anyway short in supply and cost all the managers chasing them a pretty penny! Overall, I think the whole division is weaker than last season, which boils down to more CT teams this season resulting in more competition for depth.

Croatia14:: I think we start to feel the effects of decline. For the first time in quite long the division doesn’t feel stronger than last year. Maybe it was also the effect of the transfer market being very flat and the FA being low on quality, but the gap between the best and worst teams seems to have widened. I’m outspoken in favour of adding more quality riders if they add value to the game, and this year only convinced me that there should’ve been more maxed riders added, at least of Paret-Peintres quality. It might be good for “realism” to have the stats more stretched out, but I don’t like it for the gameplay and MG dynamics.

knockout: I agree with the idea that this year’s PCT looks weaker than last year. I would not want to narrow it down to specific terrains but it feels like it’s a development over almost all terrains. This is especially noteworthy at the bottom half of the division. There were quite a few teams last year that looked like they were relegation contenders last year but had a lot of potential to climb into the upper half of the table. This year there are more teams that seem to lack that upside and who will be locked into the relegation fight from the beginning.

jandal: Yep not much to add here, it looks weaker across the board - I don’t think we’d be considering a team with Wellens and Skujins anywhere near relegation this year, similarly there are teams with not much changed that look way higher than last year. Aker or some of the other previous strong promoting teams in here would have been a bloodbath.

Which repeating PCT team has turned it around the best in this transfer window?

jandal: I might well nominate myself as conductor of the Philips hype train this year, we are well and truly rolling and moving and I love what you have done with your transfers Abhi, and for me if this question was the old “who will make the biggest rankings jump” it’s between Philips and Voyagin, who have done far less and maybe even look worse than last year on paper, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to predict such a down year for them again. Also big shoutout to Bralirwa just for the Madrazo signing, we always talk about a team needing a final piece to the puzzle for promotion but Madrazo is overkill in that department and is more like the final piece of a title charge. Also like how Binance have done and what Popo4Ever and Lierse look like after changes more through training than transfers. But choo choo, Philips hype train leaving the station!

Croatia14:: Can’t really agree too much on Binance, Popo and Lierse, they all look nice but they didn’t really get those new flashy signings. Bralirwa did well to recover from the Ghirmay-disappointment, that is for sure. I like what Zalgiris did though (and would’ve liked it even more without shipping Powless further). They turned an aging team into a very healthy leadership structure, which they can build on for the next years, no matter if in PCT or even PT next year. As much as quasdas is a pain in the ass in transfers, you gotta give credit to his management skills once more. Then a small shoutout to Kraftwerk: Signing Ranaweera was amazing (maybe the buy of the season in PCT), and they always snatch up 1-2 guys I really want every transfer window.

knockout: “Popo4Ever and Lierse look like after changes more through training than transfers'' (jandal) - You picked exactly the two teams you should never mention in the same sentence with the word “changes” here. I’d say none of them even tried to turn anything around. Doesn't mean they can not improve upon last season but that disqualifies them as an answer for this specific question for me.
For me, this is between Bralirwa and Philips. Bralirwa didn’t do too much either but they added the new number one stage racer in the division to a roster that missed promotion by less than 400 points last year. Could be a sign for good fortunes this year… Philips on the other hand did a lot of interesting and good moves to turn the roster around completely and look quite different to last year and frankly speaking, a lot better than previously.

AbhishekLFC: Think Bralirwa takes it for me, and this despite spending half the transfers chasing a Lvl 1 talent to exorbitant salaries! Binance also I think have put themselves into promotion contention with their moves.

jandal: I don’t want to hear another bad word said about chasing a Lvl1 talent to exorbitant salaries in this preview!

Which newly promoted team is best suited to tackle PCT in 2022?

Croatia14:: I’d like to give a shoutout to Volcanica for making Ahlstrand the FA signing of the season. I did not expect them to look this good, but they clearly have the best sprinter in the division. I also think Strava did well at the FA market in terms of wage/reward, though I’m not sure if both will survive. Zara looks set, but they had a head start going into the season with an amazing core. So Zara and HelloFresh (also with a head start) look very good, but I like what Volcanica did and I also have to shout out Gjensidige who also have a very healthy team structure no matter if they'll be in PCT or CT next year.

knockout: Looking at all of the promoted teams, it seems obvious to me that this year was a difficult year to promote and all of them seem to have had struggles getting multiple PCT worthy leaders and i suspect that we will see many of them in the relegation fight.
I’m gonna go the easy route and say Zara. Their strong core from last year remains largely intact and they added Taaramae as a strong stage race leader so they seem to have the strongest squad of the promoting teams. But I honestly expected them to leave transfers a lot stronger with all the potential in the squad. In terms of roster additions, I want to highlight Gjensidige and HelloFresh. Both lack the one leader that is a guaranteed big scorer to flush them up the rankings but both teams added a lot of scoring options to potentially kraftwerk themselves out of the relegation fight via depth scoring / hopefully good race planning.

AbhishekLFC: Zara Irizar already had a team ready to take on the PCT and they shrewdly added Taraamae to the mix, which surprised me a little as it goes against their team building philosophy. Among the others, HelloFresh, Gjensidige and Volcanica have come out with competitive outfits for the PCT and I can see all of those three surviving this year.

jandal: I’m taking Zara and HelloFresh a step above Volcanica here, everyone else will at the very least have relegation in their rear view mirror at some point - not to say I don’t like some of their work, but as others have said it was a tough tough year to promote - hence a team like Zara who had such an awesome base coming up do well where a team like Crabbe who were so cool last year but had a lot to do in transfers (and so little time each 48 hours to do it) struggled a bit to make so much adjustments.
Which teams are relegation candidates?

jandal: For me, when trying all the different ways of looking at and ranking the division I often find myself turning to tiers for doing my “expert” prediction - they are sometimes a tier of one or two, sometimes seven or eight. For me the bottom tier of PCT this year is exactly five long, and so I won’t name the five here so as not to spoil my rankings! However I’ll say although I see those five as the bottom tier and I wouldn’t be absolutely surprised if they are the five relegated teams, each team has a little something about them which I find exciting and means that I don’t have any of them as 100% nailed-on given how boggy the dogfight can get between the underachieving mediocre teams and the well-planned bad ones.

AbhishekLFC: Two teams who had a difficult transfer window, Crabbe and Trans, immediately jump out as top relegation candidates for me. Sauber looks to be in trouble once again, and Indosat are likely to be in the same boat. Strava is yet another promoted team who don’t look convincing, with Project Africa also likely to be in the mix all season from among the repeating teams.

Croatia14:: Going to go the Jandal-way of not calling out names here. You can kinda guess though at least from the promoted teams I didn’t mention, and then there are also a couple of PCT teams that I’m surprised have not made many moves. As mentioned before, I think it’s much more clear this year who might be in trouble and who might not.

knockout: The promoted teams plus Project: Africa, Sauber and Indosat.

jandal: knockout with the lovely bedside manner as always :P

Which teams are in title and promotion contention?

AbhishekLFC: If last season’s form continues for Silvestre and Stallaert, I think Bralirwa are likely the top contenders for the PCT title this season. In addition, Amaysim’s ready made ‘PT’ squad, with the addition of Bewley, should see them battling for top spot as well. Behind them, it is a little harder to choose between teams. All of Carlsberg, Binance, Xero, Zara - Iricar, Popo4Ever and Voyagin look like they have the tools to make a promotion push this season, on paper at least.

Croatia14:: Last year I really liked Assa Abloy (and busted with that), but I still trust their management quite a lot. They’re no title contenders though, as that usually should be relegated teams. However, there are not many, though I can see both in the right scenario. Xero if they work Areruya well, but more surely Amaysim with their experience and Haig (though I did not like the McCarthy-training instead of training Haig at all). Bralirwa have to be considered with Madrazo joining and losing almost nothing, though especially Silvestre has to repeat what he did last year. Finally I gotta say that I’d like if Carlsberg and Lierse learned from punching under their weight last year, and if they work their squads to perfection I can see them turning “under” into “above” and contend for promotion (Lierse) or even the title (Carlsberg).

jandal: I am going back and forth on making my narrative for the title being a complete two-horse race and being anybody’s game. Maybe that comes down to the two horses being a bit boring and uninspiring to nominate as my title winner :P It seems like the argument for any team comes with the caveat of either “their leaders need to be fully firing” or “if planned to perfection” which means that if one of a number of teams really gets both they could sneak in there. Perhaps we will see quite a flat promotion race, where the difference between the title and missing out on promotion entirely isn’t that large. However I still think it will be one of the two teams I will place top, with some others like Carlsberg and Philips I can see an argument for if both those conditions are met, even if I won’t have them third and fourth in most likely to promote, as I see the likes of Binance or Popo as having a higher floor.

knockout: Unlike in many of the past seasons, I don't see that one dominant title favourite. There is no Aker where I would have been absolutely shocked if they didn't finish on the podium last season. Amaysim probably will be in the fight with their leadership quartett while Bralirwa has the high ceiling of three potentially dominant leaders. If none of those two teams will see their leaders delivering to the highest level, the title race could be blown wide open and a plethora of teams might have a chance to pull a Leicester City upset. I don’t want to mention all of them here but I want to highlight Carlsberg once again who seem to have a very high floor and should surely be in the promotion fight.

What is the best training move done by a PCT team this off-season?

jandal: Rodrigues, Halvorsen, Aranburu, Dunbar, Areruya, Oomen, Padun, Benoot, Novak are the major ones to consider, I also like Aidan’s training (for a second I was going to specify the rider not the manager but then I remembered it doesn’t matter now) of MO to 75 which I think is a bit of a threshold potentially even though he already has PCM magic. In terms of proportional improvement in points maybe it is Dunbar, Aranburu or Rodrigues? Certainly as a team Lierse are the winners here with double duty. I feel like some of those nine are all at similar levels to each other, and it is hard to pick one as having the greatest impact. I’ll call my own shot here and say it’s Areruya though just because I don’t ever do that in this preview and I freaking love that guy.

Croatia14:: It’s between Areruya, Dunbar, Novak and Padun for me. As discussed, I do not like Aranburus training with his lack of acc and sta, similarly not a fan of the Benoot or Aidan-Training (latest should’ve been hill). Shoutouts go to Halvorsen, I rarely like a sprint training (am I a hypocrite?) but this one is smart. However, I usually enjoy a mountain training the most. This time it could be Dunbar though, as he now becomes the best TT-stage racer in the division (though I still think MO-training might’ve made as much sense). Areruya now is the obvious best trained guy, but long term I’d have liked MO-training more. With him becoming the best puncheur of the division though I can’t look past it as the best training, though Novak (failed chance with Oomen however) and Padun also will make them score loads of additional points too. So Areruya the best, but Dunbar the best possible.

knockout: Areruya and Dunbar are the only riders I can consider for this reply. For long-term selfish reasons, i really hoped Areruya would get mountain trained and i still want to see him going there in the future because he is one of very few potential GT winners without reasonable solid TT skills and I’d absolutely love to see a rider with that skill set win a GT at some point once again. The Dunbar training was absolutely massive for Indosats survival chances. After several strong TT heavy teams got promoted that first tier of TT guys looked kinda empty and training Dunbar to fill that hole in the division looks like a great move to me. Also the no-brainer Oomen training… ah nevermind.

AbhishekLFC: Any training that takes you to among the best in the world, while in PCT, will always be at the top of my training list. As such Areruya takes this one comfortably for me. I do like the Padun training, as you cannot ask for a better successor to the might Pluchkin than the young Ukrainian. Like knockout said though, if there’s one training that’s likely to impact a team’s present and future the most, it is Dunbar, who is once again expected to play a big role if his team is to survive this season.
Part 3: Individual Team Previews

Amaysim Cervelo

Jack Haig7282747776757858617370677729
Jay McCarthy7067825880757069657471715830
Sam Bewley7465676772707979797764736735
Michael Storer7075786972737358647475667225
Luke Durbridge7358678173747053626468618131
Lucas Hamilton6976756569737655647776706726
Robert Power6777706677767959566361656527
Ben O'Connor7077707170727553586868707027
Hamish Schreurs7254675275757177727164636128
Brendan Canty7075737571717352686766657430
Cameron Bayly7174746770726958657478736532
Patrick Lane6974766370687256637378666331
Cyrus Monk7460666976707076617072776926
Callum Scotson7256637673707075667568637826
Chris Harper6775736271727460657472656228
Alex Wohler7758667672717351717280607630
Marcus Culey7961656577767453667074676729
Rhys Gillett6773727071677455597477717032
Ryan Christensen7867706476747652686571766426
Matthew Dinham6367646366686759616461666022
Taj Jones6360615867676261686961625822
Carter Turnbull6564636862696758606060606622
Rudy Porter6167645962646658616562625922

Talking Points

jandal: Let’s just get it out of the way: Amaysim, uh… more like Amaysing! there I said it we can all move on and no need to make that joke again. Now, Jack Haig is obviously an amaysing #1 for them as one of the division’s top riders full stop, but there are huge question marks over McCarthy for me and though I think the Morton deal was good work by tsmoha I’m not sure keeping and then pumping 1,800,000 of training into a guy who could only come 60th in the rankings last year with 81HI is the move for a team that should be trying to win the title in style. Selling him on and going for a lesser leader (or Luke Plapp!) and 83MO for Haig or 80HI for Storer could have been a killer move in my opinion to make them top dogs of the division. If McCarthy can’t repay the huge faith the team have put in him, combined with smaller question marks over Bewley in Stallaert’s domain who could easily fall to sixth best cobbler (I still think he has it though) it could take the extra oomph out of what is at a baseline a very good promotion team - but I just feel that they could have grabbed the title with both hands or brought in a top talent and now they are “only” contenders, which is a very minor criticism and shows how good this team is that I am only criticising them for being one of the top few teams rather than the top one.

Croatia14:: As said, not a fan of the McCarthy-Training and agreeing with jandal. It ensures promotion, but so would’ve done a Haig training (for the long term PT plan). I’m not a big fan of the Storer proposal of jandal though. Stil, the real prize in that Morton-trade was Durbridge, not McCarthy, imo. He’s the top pure ITT guy of the division and has a decent squad around him to be great in wage/reward. They missed an opportunity to train Haig. But apart from that this is an outstanding, sure-fire promotion squad with no gaps (except for sprints but who needs them anyway!?).

knockout: Anyone wants to hear another opinion on why i would have prefered a Haig training plus the best possible 250k-300k free agent signing over McCarthy? Only difference is that I want to throw in 79TT for Haig instead of 83MO for the same fee. That said, limiting yourself to only oceanic riders makes it difficult to find proper value in FA, whether he could have gotten enough training cash to do either of them and I can see how getting McCarthy looked more intriguing for the team than the other options. And when I’m already in complete agreeing mode, I might as well say again that Durbridge looks set for a big season due to the lack of first tier time trialists in the division. All in all, I see four solid to good leaders and a solid enough support / depth core behind that the team has very good promotion chances.

AbhishekLFC: Relegation generally means a team will have a headstart in terms of the riders for the lower division. So, despite selling someone like Morton, they were able to bring in the likes of McCarthy and Durbridge, and train the former. While McCarthy has not been the most consistent historically, his training makes him a stronger pure puncher, and in a season where the division isn’t the strongest in that area, it looks like a good move. Despite getting Bewley in, sprints will not be their strong suit, but all other areas are very well covered and I think they’re a lock-in to make their way back to the PT at the end of the season.


Assa Abloy

Yonathan Monsalve6780757178797655647268647133
Elie Gesbert7174786480787862687376666627
Yoann Paillot7070718075746856636456718031
Marcus Faglum Karlsson7179737378757656606866747928
Lionel Coutinho7263655275747755798055645230
Robbie Squire6877776570707665617176656532
Awet Gebremedhin6977746473747650557578666430
Lars Van der Haar7766726670726975727076787131
Jan-Andre Freuler6972756873757259677567756930
Mario Gonzalez Salas7057608074766760615478618030
Jacopo Mosca7172756373756860657580716829
Paolo Scarponi6776746570717355616969826533
Torkil Veyhe8066686566716951567880716928
Tony Gallopin7268717274736963676877677134
Hannes Bergstrom Frisk6673687171717461556567667127
Kim Magnusson7469705870697158657379685830
Linus Kvist6766716472696360677176716323
Staffan Arvidsson7058707472747358637074707532
Davur Magnussen7158687064706260677073707430
Erik Bergstrom Frisk6666656165676560606163736123

Talking Points

Croatia14: I overrated them in the past, they almost didn’t change and I still rate them highly. They’ll do good this year, but don’t sleep on their future. Gesbert is a great rider to train next year, on top Dainese and Konychev will come back. 2022 probably won’t be their year if the leaders can’t overperform (though I’d love to see them push for it), but the team looks perfectly set for a promotion push in 2023. Sell Monsalve, get a big-time leader and train Gesbert and with the depth of Paillot, Faglum, Dainese, Konychev, Gonzales Salas and such next year we could see a title contender in Assa Abloy.

jandal: I’ve never been as firmly hyping Assa Abloy as Croatia in previous previews but I too have been a little caught up in the SykkelFreak love and then a bit disappointed in the results. Still a very likeable team who make for an odd outlier in my narrative of the promotion race - we keep discussing that there’s a lot of teams who are probably somewhere in the top 10, maybe promoting, but I think Assa Abloy are definitely somewhere in the top 10, probably not promoting. Paillot is a good guy to bring in, him and Gonzalez Salas could do wonders with a couple of cheap 75-77 guys to form a premier TTT train but he should still be great. Monsalve is still great with those energy stats but has taken an undeniable step down, obviously I love Gesbert. The likes of Gebremedhin, Mosca, van der Haar, Freuler and Veyhe are the guys I love this team for and as Croatia said when it’s time for them to turn it on and promote soon, they are the guys who will bring it home and make this team a complete fan favourite again like the Delvaux years. This year the team is just missing a little of that BDE to promote, but still a great entertaining team ready for the talents to come home and provide that to take them to PT.

AbhishekLFC: I don’t think I had quite the same outlook on them last season, and I don’t see them improving this time either. I do agree with Croatia though that they seem set with a good base to challenge for promotion next season. The reason for my outlook this time is mainly because; one, they have targeted only three of the terrains, and left out the flats, barring Coutinho, and two, Monsalve was good last time, but the division is much stronger in terms of stage racers and he is unlikely to repeat his points haul. The depth with Faglum Karlsson and the TT riders will probably keep them in mid-table like last season. It should at least. They could be looking over their shoulders though if both Monsalve and Paillot under-perform, but that is unlikely.

knockout: I was one of those that already overrated Assa Abloy last year and I’m probably in the process of doing so once again. Looking at the squad picture there is no way this should be a promotion worthy squad. However, Paillot and Salas have two of the three highest TT stats in the division and Paillot especially has the backup stats that could set him up for a massive haul this season - even more so if riders such as Cattaneo might get planned more like traditional stage racers? I also rate their stage race duo and see scoring potential in the next 5-6 riders in the roster so I think this team will play a role inside the top 10 this year. And I’m almost scared to say so but maybe even higher than that?



Orluis Aular6881727076757752636967717026
Joao Rodrigues6580737473757755617270687428
Pedro Miguel Paulinho6775806470727456687570626432
Adam Blythe7553656774697581757171717033
Rui Oliveira7067767077727266757865677126
Dylan Kennett7558656973767862797867687828
Bert Van Lerberghe7460666675747477757368656830
Robert Bush7463636275737178717366746232
Jonathan Salinas6977737174747056597264667132
Fabian Lienhard7366756677726955737677697028
David Bartl6977727173747552607071667531
Gaspar Goncalves6973755671706756687462666227
Clement Venturini7563686574747972757763736929
Jakub Kaczmarek7268757574757269636968677629
Amaro Antunes6776726371697055606774726332
Csaba Palyi7366717372736971727471697232
Miguel Angel Benito6875707372717351566167627329
Roman Seigle6870756473726860637068696728
Sota Ikibe6374737070707260626573687030
Christophe Noppe7561696274736873757366686328
Luc Wirtgen7073736472717258666668696424
Tom Thill7466737470737061626677687432

Talking Points

Croatia14: I feel like this team looks like one to hype up: 4 riders with 80+ main stats, two of them young, all looking solid. A very deep team, no terrain gaps, it looks like an easy promotion bet. Not so fast with me, there is some way to go and it’s tricky. Neither one of Rodriguez, Aular and Paulinho is a top5 rider in their terrain, arguably no top10 rider. That could make the team look better than it is. The climbers lack hill stat, Paulinho lacks the energy stats. Blythe and the cobbles squad, which is very good, make or break the season. If Bush, van Lerberghe and the deeper guys elevate Blythe to a Top3 PCT cobbler and a good PTHC scorer, then the team will promote. But if they can’t overcome Blythes flaws on the decline (he couldn’t save GCN) and the planning for the climbers is not spot on, then this could well be a year of disappointment for Binance. Fintas needs to be on his A-game.

knockout: I don’t think that Blythe is the make-or-break guy as he is more of a known quantity despite his decline. You know he will be good in the flat cobbled classics but he won’t have enough great races to properly drag the team up by himself. To me, the uphill leaders are those that will decide how high the team finishes. Aular and Rodrigues are quite similar in their build and I’m not too convinced that they will deliver on a high enough level to get them into the promotion spots.

AbhishekLFC: I guess I have the completely opposite opinion and believe that they are solid enough everywhere to get promotion this time. While Aular and Rodrigues are similar, together they can cover the entire spectrum of mountain races in PCT and go for a Kraftwerk-like approach of picking up points everywhere. The cobbles team is very strong, and while Blythe may have declined further, he has much better support than last season which should work in his favour, at least where there are no hills to contend with. Kennett has shown he is always capable of doing better than his stats. Paulinho is not the greatest puncher out there but the division is weaker, so he should score better than previously this time. I think they have built smartly to cover most bases and should see them be in promotion contention.

jandal: Really a lot to like and feel good about Binance from my end. Not the Top 10 scorers or huge depth/niche scoring we normally love to praise in promotion-worthy teams but somewhere between the two looks good for them. One of the teams I feel better about of the massive ruckus that will be the battle for 3rd-5th. Really obviously solid top four, all with at minimum great if not division leading support and depth, with a sneakily nice 5th and 6th guy too in Oliveira, who hopefully gets to do his own thing a bit in planning, and Kennett, who I don’t like to talk about too much because he’s one of my three great renewals brainfarts but is really cool. One of only a couple of teams who are no filler and quality all the way down and if fintas is “on his game” as Croatia said, they are for me a frontrunner for promotion.


Bralirwa - Stevens

Angel Madrazo6683747578777853616964677534
Joeri Stallaert7760675876688081797667665831
Fabio Silvestre7861677370717456808170637732
Valens Ndayisenga6678756569687352637372696528
Bonaventure Uwizeyimana7176727476757750566869587429
Mektel Eyob6876766674697355626672736629
Tesfom Okbamariam7366655970736776726865785931
Houcaine El Sabbahi7564696471747664767568687025
Souheil Khederi6774766168677159587367715931
Janvier Hadi6874727473707161747168697430
Natnael Tesfatsion6672736065707160687469626123
Moise Mugisha6769736264737060637178646125
Karl Patrick Lauk7465626668696367727266646625
Samuel Mugisha7464697269727063626873646625
Alex Mengoulas7065686970686568657372676925
Samuele Menicucci6962696171717170616769696325
Yacob Debesay6466685966676862626968645923
Aziz Melki6962686268696560616371626223
Marc Brustenga6860645860706460677061715823
Renus Uhiriwe6961666866676260636872646821
Ivan Cobo6166666063656358626461625922
Shemu Nsengiyumva6862636267686261616266626223

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: Think the move to bring in Madrazo in addition to Stallaert and Silvestre makes them an instant promotion favourite, and possibly top contender for the PCT title. Also great job by the manager to recover from the painful FA bidding war loss of Ghirmay to keep the wits about and go for a leader of the quality of Madrazo. Their climbing depth is solid while hills is the only area where they will not expect to be scoring. Unless the game suddenly starts hating on Silvestre and/or Stallaert, a minimum Top 5 placing is already a guarantee for them.

Croatia14: Ghirmay went so ridiculous that it was recovery time for Bralirwa midway through transfers, and they did so beautifully. It’s always risky to go in with no depth, but in PCT leaders are the ones that score you big time. And if they’re as good as Bralirwas are then you can’t lose really. Not sure if they have the ceiling in the riders to get the surprise points for the title, but they surely have the starpower that their floor is too high to fail on promotion.

knockout: I definitely see the potential of a division winner here. Basic kitchen maths of taking their scoring from last season and adding a typical #1 stage racer scoring to it, paints a convincing argument. However, I see worries that both Stallaert and Silvestre won’t be able to repeat their scoring from last season. Stallaert lost two of his three main support guys on the cobbles with Lampaert and Schoonbroodt gone without any sort of replacement while we have seen enough sprinters in the recent past who were not able to carry over outstanding performances into a new season. So while they are a title contender, I could see them dropping down to fifth or sixth too.

jandal: Easily the highest floor of any team in the division, Silvestre is the only guy with any asterisk of potential lower scoring than one would predict due to the potential sprinters have of just going from hero to zero as knockout said. But I made the mistake last year of doubting him in this preview and I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t be great again, even if it’s not quite to the same amazing extent as last year. However in terms of their ceiling I am not sure if it’s that much higher: where are the riders with asterisks saying they could also score way higher than we are predicting? Do they risk creating a separate stage races squad for Eyob, Ndayisenga and Uwizeyimana and just leave Madrazo by himself to see if they can maximise their own scoring because that looks like the only way for me. However that is about winning a title rather than promoting which they should be doing anyway so no need to risk it from the manager’s perspective surely. So a pretty known quantity who could win the title if nobody ends up better than them, but also surely fourth if three teams have that depth scoring or inspired planning that I doubt Bralirwa can do.


Edited by AbhishekLFC on 27-09-2022 15:01
Carlsberg – Danske Bank

Alex Aranburu6977796370797457687162676327
Rasmus Guldhammer6780767073747268697570647033
Kristian Haugaard Jensen7170806777737155667681737031
Matteo Trentin7359736074697380747466556633
Asbjorn Kragh Andersen7754646570747853817760617530
Lennard Kämna7177717876737562636771707826
Sebastian Lander7755695977727973797763595931
Jonas Gregaard7178716678757561637058756626
Niklas Eg6777717476747559606866657227
Erik Nordsaeter Resell7556706573717076617076696526
Patrick Olesen6875756272737463637361666128
Gyasi Sulvaran7269747168766654667477677228
Arturs Belevics7660647873727362636675647826
Kasper Asgreen6766776870696755647475666827
Matija Mestric7363706369706876556571756725
Biniam Girmay7164706170736673717263716522
Mathias Krigbaum7669707474757362656470697327
Hugo Forssell6662687367716657747469677423
Goldwijnn Cannister7061666471656769707270626623
Mattias Skjelmose Jensen7070696966726858646569656922
Samuel Lord6665676466656563687069686723
Jacob Eriksson6867685866686564616565655923

Talking Points

Croatia14: I hate Aranburus training and I told bbl so :P multiple times :P Happy to be proven wrong, but he’s just not a puncheur to me. Yes, there will be short-term benefits with him being modelled after Areruya and Beltran, and their teams making the hill races hard, but in the long run he’d be better as a climber for stage races without an ITT. If bbl can keep Aranburu away from Jensen, who with better hill, acc and sta rightfully lead the classics, then this could work out. But if not, then I’ll go back to bbl and tell him that he should've listened to me. :P

Apart from that piece I really like the team. For me the team underachieved from what should’ve been a promotion last year. I assume that bbl for this year prepared better for his leaders as they were known before transfers, adjusted his race choice and planning accordingly and thus managed his team into PT 2023.

knockout: Carlsberg might be the best example of building a team with a leader for every race in this year’s PCT. Between Guldhammer, Kämna, Trentin, AKA and Jensen, they have five leaders for five very different kinds of races and all of them are good for podiums on their best days. And that list still doesn't include Aranburu, Lander or King Arturs and a whole bunch of support/depth guys that look at least decent. The Aranburu training looks a hell lot like having too much cash and no good way to use it. Ideally that cash would be used to swap at least one of their leaders for a non-declining rider of a similar quality but if you want them to stick around for one more year for sentimental reasons, training Aranburu in either MO or Hi seemed like the way to go despite not really liking either option (Carrying over some of the cash for next season could have been an option too). They might not have the one top leader but it sure looks like a promotion contender to me.

AbhishekLFC: Think the starting letters of the Alphabet are going up this time! Think most of what needs to be said has been covered by the two answers above. I’m not too keen on that Aranburu training myself, and think that money could’ve been better used. Having said this, if he and Jensen can stay out of each other’s way, it will still mean a big points haul from the hills.

jandal: The first thing I said to you guys when we started was that the start of the alphabet is insanely stacked and nobody acknowledged my message, just want to say that since Abhi stole that from me :P Not sure what to make of Aranburu, he doesn’t scream puncheur to me either but we also have to remember how well Guldhammer suits MO/HI races too in terms of the short-term fit, I still agree with your takes on his training but I can see them making it work, speaking as someone who is planning a MO/HI and a HI/MO guy I think you can have them complement each other, especially as Carlsberg’s MO/HI guy has TT which mine does not. Even taking Aranburu out of the equation this is still a Top 10 squad for me at least, and even if he has a crappy poorly planned year he’d still add enough to make them a promotion contender. Yes Guldhammer and Trentin have lost a step but not a huge one, especially if Guldhammer can find some weaker startlists he’s still very scary. Between Lander and the stage racers the depth is really really there, and this is a high ceiling team - as said in the general questions, if we were talking “Leicester City” contenders this is one I’d throw out there. Just a fun team with lots of scorers and all the RDs covered, a dream to plan and not to put too much pressure on bbl but if he has done planning well and their riders perform to the level you’d expect, I don’t think there’s an excuse not to promote.



Eduard Alexander Beltran6979816673727259667678746632
Tadej Pogacar6978757477787851637169667324
Lucas Eriksson7267786178747565657675716126
David Gaudu7371786678757157687069696626
Aleksandar Roman6777756471737461637674785826
Milos Borisavljevic6877737474747554596564687428
Geoffrey Bouchard7077746770727655627078766630
Michael Christodoulos7268687875697053536473657925
Hayden McCormick7066766574717053737367596528
Andres Camilo Ardila6576756767687062627171656723
Matic Groselj7858667774787167737269707926
Marko Pavlic6975727271737463686970707429
Izidor Penko7168717673747158657062717626
Gasper Katrasnik8161636972766963637281736927
Miha Poljanec7767696370686773717169736327
Aleksa Crncevic6776707370707564616967757227
Ivan Siric7663706575786574757160756524
Nur Aiman Zariff6858606070657660787860677025
Santiago Buitrago6673716568727260657671666523
Fred Wright6867686768706766696972656723
Kees Duyvesteyn6765706465686560637069666424
Aljaz Jarc6963666367686868676972686323
Aleks Bechkov6766646966666555636070666823

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: Beltran and Pogacar lead the team into what is now their fourth PCT campaign. Nothing new needs to be said about Beltran who well and truly got his mojo back last season and went on to win the individual rankings. His support is even better this time and should aid him well in his races. Pogacar is almost at the end of his development and should already be a regular Top 10 finisher in stage races, along with a top contender for the White Jersey in most of them. An interesting and versatile looking, regional and revamped stage racing unit promises to get them a lot of depth points, something which they perhaps lacked in those races in the past. It remains to be seen whether they can get back to the heights of the 8th place they achieved last season, but they should comfortably be in mid-table once again. They have built a great platform to build on this over the next couple of seasons for an eventual PT push.

Croatia14: I am a little worried. Beltran can make or break a season. His history so far is: Make - break - make - ???. With Areruya being trained he now has competition that fills his niche (though with Kwiatek a weaker one is gone), which could massively impact his “winning”. The calendar for him got nerfed once again, too. Lucky enough though, Cedevita has a very good young core to score deep. Pogacar, Ardila, Siric and Christodoulos should add in plenty of youth points as they are Top 3 PCT in what they’re doing, the depth behind the leaders is very good too. However, Cedevita only has one big name as a scorer, and if the depth doesn’t work and Beltran fails they could even be in trouble. If they work well though, they similarly could fly very high, even into PT. Cedevita surely is one of the biggest mysteries this year, though redordead is very good at planning in PCT which is a big factor in itself.

knockout: The Beltran support looks better than ever but I still expect a slight regression in his scoring due to the arrival of Areruya and slightly worse looking PTHC profiles for him. Behind him, the team seems to be in a bit of a transitional season waiting for Pogacar to fully arrive in his prime. With Pogacar, Borisavljevic and Roman, Cedevita has now a very cool local core for the mountains that can carry the team for the next four or five years. This depth as well as the Beltran scoring will probably push the team into the midtable region again. What I’m missing is that one rider that can deliver further points on other terrains. Kinda looks like the trust is on Katrasnik to deliver which is interesting but might not be good enough.

jandal: Even if Areruya is a complete Beltran-killer (which I doubt), as Croatia points out Kwiatkowski is gone and we saw how well he did rankings-wise even as a #2 in that niche rankings, plus I foresee some planning differences - I know we try not to take planning or fore-knowledge into account too much but all I’m saying is I don’t think Beltran will take too big a hit this year, but definitely a small one. I can’t really undersell how good I think Pogacar will be relative to his level, unfortunate for the conglomerate but he should be taking Eenkhoorn and Habtemichael to the cleaners in the U25 competitions, and just avoiding Conci if the TTs are too much. Then add his HI, TT and backups and he just looks like the best in that 77-78 third/fourth tier of stage racers I love talking about but still don’t have an eloquent way of describing :P I’m sure redordead knows what I’m talking about though, because he’s got a lovely collection of them to go with his strengthened hills depth as well. Great squads on both terrains and even a modest TTT train. Everything looks amazing here at Cedevita to improve on their season last year, we probably don’t need to do the rest of the squad overview. What? You want to know their plans for the other terrains? Ksshshsh kshsh rrr sorry I’m going through a tunnel kshshs rr ok byeeeeeee


Crabbe-CC Chevigny

Ingus Eislers7867665875767358817663616033
Theo Reinhardt7157676773667862798451626732
Richard Antonio Carapaz6980717271767750566571617229
Mustafa Carsi7051556766697352808252687130
Stefan Kung7370737774727372637173787829
Sergey Chernetskiy7071796680697052637176646632
Alexey Tsatevich7361765972716874747365686333
Emils Liepins7360665973687755787958586030
Carl Fredrik Hagen6874756574727165717274726431
Romain Bardet6677745972707151527567715932
Tim Ariesen7565686274737175707171656228
Andrea Manfredi6978656568737254627377736530
Victor Campenaerts7154697871737262536578567831
Jarrad Drizners6962716268716460707372666523
Louis Blouwe6966726668706961677071676723
Mark Donovan7171696569736762636969696723
Stan Van Tricht7065676170716765717367646223
Timo Kielich6860665865716664687263696223
Kamiel Bonneu6864705872706362606664625823
Fabio Van Den Bossche6866686363696968626769686122
Paul Daumont6662666467676262697070656523
Martins Pluto6761676166676761696765656024
Diogo Barbosa6468626064646558586659595922

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: From the team that were the darlings of the MG world with their plethora of cobbles riders, to one that struggled to sign riders in the off season and annoyed a lot of managers in the process, the level up to PCT has hit Crabbe hard! What they ended up with is Carapaz, who was a part of the relegated (and now defunct) Eurosport outfit last season, Chernetskiy, who is solid but not world-leading, a gaggle of sprinters all of whom need to stay out of each other’s way to be effective, and there isn’t enough flat RDs for that, and just two lower level cobbles riders, neither of whom are likely to make much of an impact near the front of races. They do have Kung and a solid unit in Campenaerts, but this looks like a long hard slog of a season coming up for them.

Croatia14: I love Laurens as a manager, he did something beautiful last year with limited resources, and I trust him to surprise with the squad again. But let’s be honest: It will be very tough. Crabbe did focus on a terrain, sprints, but that’s usually not the one where great depth leads you all the way. I’m sad they couldn’t get a cobbled leader as they wished, and I also don’t see a world where this pans out without a Top level sprinter like Ahlstrand. Eislers would’ve been great last year, but now he’s under that mighty 77 ACC-threshold and also lacks a leadout, as all of Reinhardt, Carsi and Liepins are too punchy for him (in a straight finish). Laurens has to get very creative to make it work somehow, especially with no elite leader to bag points with on any terrain and no squad to make the best out of Campenaerts and Küng. I don’t like the transfer season due to neither getting the big time leaders nor younger leaders that could get them back up from CT in case of relegation, but I’d enjoy Laurens proving me wrong here.

knockout: If there ever was a team that’s weaker than its parts, it’s this one. And this is mostly down to their sprint department: Holy moly, what a clusterfuck. Four sprinters that could all play an important role in most teams (eventhough i’m not sold on Carsi outside of short flat Criterium like races) but as much as we like to be the backseat manager knowing everything better, i’d have no clue how one would want to plan them. Imo, they don’t seem to fit together at all and I hope to get surprised by a plan that works. Then there is Kung who for some reason seems to be worth a 400k wage. Once again, I’m clueless how. And I'm not sold on the team fit. Personally, I think he fits best in a Generali like team where he adds power to a TTT team and can support a cobbles leader on top of results in certain hybrid races such as Arenberg but i don’t see him as a leader. He finds neither a TTT team nor a cobbled leader here so that wage would better be invested in a proper leader for sure. That leaves Carapaz as the non-sprinter pickup that I like and Chernetskiy as another semi-leader that I don't really rate but on a good wage. Loved their CT team but I'm mostly just glad that I don't have to plan this PCT team and I’m hoping that they find a solution that maximizes the value of their sprinters.

jandal: Have to agree with knockout that Kung is on too high a wage for this team - he’s such a cool rider who I am sad to criticise, and potentially even worth that in FA to a team with 400k to spare on a cool rider to fit into their plans. Kung does not fit and is not their saviour. It’s hard to critique their FA due to the clear time constraints they were under but the signings of both he and Carapaz are big Ls for me, both decent riders but not what was needed. It’s not impossible to see a world where this ends in survival because I believe the sprinters can be separated (focus on Eislers and Reinhardt, don’t give Carsi all his RDs if it doesn’t work) and there is enough potential to lift them up. However, escaping the drop looks unlikely. If they do, survival will be left to the last minute - but that’s something of a specialty for the manager.


Gjensidige Pro Cycling Team

Odd Christian Eiking7169806578747154687675696728
Sondre Holst Enger7363697171737758817862687729
Timofey Kritskiy7180717672706954646164587535
Jaime Roson6778766167707753547473665829
Sindre Skjostad Lunke6978727376747858606468697629
David De la Cruz6877747370747355597164727333
Philip Lavery6971766475716863677777626432
Casper Pedersen7661676773767563777771697826
Gregory Daniel7567727775747255566873697628
Vegard Stake Laengen6975727575747359616670747633
Guillaume Martin6875726674717552597163656729
Adomaitis Rojus7359676765727457777660647324
Johan Fredrik Ziesler6970766274706752696559716432
Marcel Kittel7353627971676355587070627934
Stepan Kurianov7965656276747671757072706426
Kristoffer Skjerping6770776271676852586562736229
Thymen Arensman7173707068736967636672697023
Jonas Iversby Hvideberg7464696370716571616477646523
Dimitrios Christakos6873686867716958616771707123
Iver Johan Knotten7062627670697058596066667224
Dinmukhammed Ulysbayev6871696868686860626467636724
Eirik Lunder7062655876666658707575706323

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: Despite not having a division leading leader in any terrain, Gjensidige do have most of the bases covered, leaving out only cobbles as the terrain they will not be concentrating on. Their leaders remind us of our own really from last season, but Eiking and Enger should be much more solid performers this time, given how the PCT has shaped up. They will need consistency, and a bit of luck, but I can see them sticking around this season and then be in a prime position to push on next year and beyond.

Croatia14: PCT is the best place to not diversify, so leaving out cobbles is a smart choice if you can’t build a weapon that also does well in PTHC. In contrast to Crabbe I like the dual approach: Kritskiy and de la Cruz to bag the points necessary to fight against relegation, while Enger adds to Eiking and Roson being a great trio no matter which division the team is in for 3 more years. Solid transfer season, solid chance to stay in the division. Hillis needs to nail his planning game though, in which he has improved massively lately.

knockout: One of the better looking promoted teams. Four of the five main specialities are covered nicely even if none is covered superb. Enger is one of the better sprinters in the division and he has a nice leadout with especially Kurianov in the squad as a great third man. Eiking is at least solid as a leader on the hills but the most intriguing part to me is the quartett of stage racers: Kristskiy, Lunke, De la Cruz and Roson are four stage racers / climbers with different strengths that should be fun to plan. All of them are not ‘sure things' as they have weaknesses that caused them to disappoint in the past - especially Lunke’s disaster 2021 season of only 87 points in PCT needs to be mentioned. I also want to highlight the TTT team as that’s good enough to set especially Kritskiy up for success in mountainous TTT races.

jandal: I’m definitely warming up to Gjensidige a little bit - they definitely look like more of a squad than some of the other promoting efforts, which look like (and I acknowledge it was a tough year to promote) they grabbed some bargain bin trash for the leaders and called it a day. Gjensidige on the other hand have depth, many scoring options and even a TTT squad, with 14/22 of their riders being new to the team, which is a great effort. I still miss the firepower to get them to avoid the relegation dogfight, but with their depth and scorers it feels like their destiny is in their own hands through planning and they should have enough about them to make it out alive.


Edited by AbhishekLFC on 27-09-2022 15:12
HelloFresh - Lampre

Peter Kennaugh7657646273707857818069626233
Luke Rowe7855666576707975798075717432
Xandro Meurisse7374776774747468717872686830
Maxime Daniel7356695676767480767269746431
Kenny Elissonde6678736376777966556661726331
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck7265715175736378706871585131
Mark Dzamastagic7866706576727666767878666531
Michael Vingerling7155626572667668797957687632
Quinten Hermans7366756175776762697673766427
Pavel Potocki6877727074717554626466697029
Scott Thwaites7359656174707676787660706132
Oscar Riesebeek7470736773756973697276717130
Adam De Vos6875756673737459626972736829
Joao Gaspar7175756673727455616772706630
Amith Udaya Kumara7462675474706575716773685427
Gilles Heymes6775717374717153545863617329
Samuele Battistella7070706569746863676769667124
Sean Quinn6969696568726860666863636822
Filippo Baroncini7063696869726863667071696622
Kevin Vermaerke6964686570706362656763646322
Jonathan Milan7058626867746263697066637022

Talking Points

jandal: I’m not sure if it’s crazy or my bias to Rowe and Meurisse speaking, but I’m feeling really high on HelloFresh - Lampre. I think their sprint unit can be one of the PCT’s best ever if utilised well (and with good AI treatment) with a huge traditional sprinter in Kennaugh and a flatbeasty Rowe finally free to be the sole leader for flat classics now he’s untangled from co-leadership at Xero, plus Vingerling to do his vingerthing and of course the amazing Mark Dzamastagic. I like Daniel a lot as well as team legend well-known PCM-overachiever Van Keirsbulck as a great second leader or lieutenant. It’s hard to know how Meurisse can do - 62nd in the standings last time out in PCT seems close to a peak for him but even close to that is a huge boon for the team. I even like the climbing unit of Elissonde, Potocki, De Vos and Gaspar who with green energy stats should bring a few depth points. It’s missing another top leader to push much higher than the lower top half, but that would be a great outing for a promoting team.

Croatia14: Promoted to stay. WJ took smart choices to leave out TT races on what was the most heated market. Banking on sprints and cobbles is always tough, but they have the team to do it. I’m not as set on Rowe and Dzamastagic working as well as meant if Kennaugh is also in the flat classics they ride, but if they can keep the units away all of them should be happy. However, as all excel in flat classics I’m still in doubt. A deep cobbles squad looks good too, that’s a good terrain for depth. On climbs and hills they need to attack in the stage races to be safe early, but even if it doesn’t work out they could, more should have what it takes to stay in the division. With the top8 riders in their 30s that will be much needed for either a promotion push or a gradual rebuild in PCT next season.

knockout: I really like the HelloFresh approach. Kennaugh and Daniel are two very solid leaders with good support and behind them they have a bunch of riders with a lot of upside. Rowe, Meurisse, Elissonde and Dzamastagic might not be typical leaders but all of them have punched above their weight in the past. I don’t see them entirely safe but they have enough quality that they can hope to not get sucked too deep into the relegation fight.

AbhishekLFC: HelloFresh are probably the hardest team to predict for me this season. They have multiple likeable riders, some of whom I have chased in the past. I also agree somewhat with what the others have said so far but I get a nagging feeling if the likeable riders do not perform ‘likably’, I can see them having quite a low floor. Going by just the rider reputations, they should finally stop yo-yoing and stick around in the PCT for a change. Daniel is probably the only rider I will bank on to say he will do very well, simply because the cobbles isn’t the strongest in the PCT this time. He is usually quite solid anyway. Kennuagh usually does well, but a decline and a rearrangement of stats is always a lottery in PCM. Meurisse and Elissonde are really fun riders to have, but can they really keep repeating their heroics from the recent past year after year. Guess we’ll find out…


Indosat Ooredoo

Bruno Borges7070806175737054718175656031
Eddie Dunbar6977767974777858606862717726
Leigh Howard7562676774697762817863646733
Dylan Page7557666072727566787962555929
Teten Rohendi7075757073757455627371707126
Rafael Silva6865756675705663747966646132
Michael Kolar6577756170717150546672606130
Muhammad Imam Arifin6676746667717352587282636627
Bambang Suryadi7156626472687658797661606432
Abdul Gani7561676576737368767760666830
Robert Gesink6676747368707059545865597336
Andreas Odie Purnama Setiawa6870757476727157627076667426
Dealton Nur Arif Prayogo7363687673757059646474647830
Jakub Novak6875717472707058626262597434
Felix Gall6775746369707058617068646224
Justin Wolf7060637771727055566258597530
Muhammad Yudha6868726572716955647170676623
Einer Augusto Rubio6571706273717060607070636224
Firdaus Ahmad6768686866696954626976736822
Sean Flynn6760675769676560666963626022
Victor Alejandro Ocampo6758637270687154586356657223

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: Indosat bet big on Dunbar last season, and that eventually paid, with the Irishman saving them from relegation with an inspired performance in Bayern Rundfahrt. They have bet big on him once again, training him to be stronger in TTs, while bringing in Howard and Borges. Those three will be their leaders for the season, which is a solid trio, but there isn’t much to be inspired about behind them! They will probably once again be looking at a battle against relegation this season, and will need good planning to steer clear of the same.

Croatia14: I like the team a lot more than last season. Borges is a brilliant rider in PCT and will score big as soon as the hilly classic he rides works “as intended” Dunbar is more of a wildcard, a better version of Izagirre when he was on full strength. He can be a top 5 scorer in the division if worked well, and with Novak and Gesink they signed the right domestiques to work him better than last year (not enough to be perfect, but still good). Training does what’s necessary to make the team one that can go far if planned very, very well.

knockout: Last season, the team narrowly avoided relegation to my surprise. They lost Warchol and Howard declined a bit while the only huge “addition” is the training on Dunbar. That all sounds like they should be massive relegation favourites? Well, I think they are in danger but two things speak in their favor: 1. The Dunbar training could be immensely valuable in this division as stated above already. 2. There are more obviously relegation-threatened teams this year than last year. I would not be surprised if it gets as close as last season again.

jandal: As we all said in the general section, Dunbar is a bona fide big boy now with that training making him such a unique and valuable rider who hopefully can put them on his back even more than last year. Planning is everything, some would say you can never waste a RD with someone like him, others would say that it’s very hard not to waste his RDs as being just good in a regular ass stage race is less than what he should be doing with his skillset - and what he has to be doing for these guys to survive. Howard, Borges and solid support for Dunbar have them ahead of the pack when it comes to surviving I think but it could still run tight.


Kraftwerk Man Machine

Nikias Arndt7179765677767263717561645631
Rick Zabel7460695574707965817966525529
Suranga Ranaweera6780737575757452586557697327
David Boily6776787072726956687469796132
Marco Haller7261655672717658807966647131
Pello Bilbao7167796577717151717567666132
Michel Koch6677736869747451677657617031
Arvin Moazemi6773786972727562657365636732
Dominik Nerz6979717273707255636664597233
Tobias Ludvigsson6876727675727356627165727531
Jasper De Buyst7361706873757575767670706829
Josip Rumac7172756472706855747666696628
Eugert Zhupa7556676578746777746867596532
Alex Ariya Destribois6976756868697452617577786731
Sasu Helme6975746971727462607673676926
Gennadiy Tatarinov6975746371716857657376636331
Florian Scheit6672765872716950647177665831
Jan Dieteren6770775875706851636680735829
Thanakhan Chaiyasombat6874706869727252667170696823
Max Walsleben7259676772686174687070727032
Antti-Jussi Juntunen6761696165686361686966616023
Marco Mathis6960657365726162687064607128
Ethan Vernon6860647068716366716863647122

Talking Points

Croatia14: Ranaweera is the perfect successor in the Kraftwerk line of bunching up secondary leaders for a great unit that performs every year. Their bid for team classifications every year is a cool niche in PCT, and their ToA will be amazing once more (Haller can’t lose there anyway) even if the field will be STACKED from what we’ve heard. Ranaweera also has the perfect age to be a long-term successor of Nerz, the German core of Arndt (one of my favourites) and Zabel is well done too. They will be a PCT team for long, the most surefire prediction every year (and I won’t make the mistake to bet against them anytime again in PCT).

jandal: Yep, this is Kraftwerk alright. And I mean that in the best way, a really likeable and entertaining to follow team due to the amount of different scoring they do, plus going from mid-table team to the best in the division when the Tour of America rolls around. As Croatia hinted at, rumours have it that their recent huge success and dominance in America may not be fully repeatable and so if they have a lot of eggs in that basket it may be a small knock to their scoring but they should be fine still. In other hands this team would be in danger perhaps of falling lower than they should perhaps even into the relegation fight due to bad planning but by now we know that the manager knows exactly what he is doing with these guys. I think “they will be PCT again next year” sums up my thoughts on Kraftwerk pretty perfectly.. In fact that sounds like a fun prediction format, ranking teams by how likely they are to be PCT in 2022!

AbhishekLFC: Think I say this in a lot of places, and must repeat again - Kraftwerk are definitely the team I aim to emulate the most in my own team building approach. Think we got there to a large extent this time. Apologies for talking about myself here, but as they say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery!

Their team building remains on point, as has already been highlighted in the previous answers. However, I do see Kraftwerk having a poorer season than last time. A lot of teams, us included, seem to have picked up on the ToA strategy. A dent there is a huge one from what Kraftwerk plans for. This does not mean I see them in relegation trouble, or even near those spots, but a mid table finish is perhaps their spot this time.

knockout: Kraftwerk looks stronger than ever. Their most notable off-season losses are Kittel, Willwohl or Costagli who all were no big factor in last year’s campaign. Plus Nerz got slightly weaker. On the other hand, they signed a couple of valuable additions that improve their squad: Ranaweera obviously the most notable one but also Ludvisson and Destribois add further variability to their climbing squad and De Buyst has the ability to be an asset in an area of weakness for them. Sure, certain predictors might be eyeing to steal Kraftwerk’s Tour of America success but having added another legit stage race leader, any potential loss there might be covered by gains elsewhere. Croatia’s prediction of seeing them in PCT again in 2023 is a solid one but to make it surefire you’d have to bet on them not relegating.


Lierse SK - Pizza Ullo PCTeam

Sam Oomen7181757478777856656972687727
Domen Novak6880776674767761657673756427
Niccolo Bonifazio7950665568757156808058727029
Laurens De Plus7276796474737157617268666527
Patrick Gamper7762667677776978637172727625
Manuel Senni7177737476797659667266737430
Szymon Sajnok7461657870767163737262707925
Jakub Mareczko7453615771737950787761667528
Alessandro Fedeli6773756272706657647268656426
Giovanni Aleotti7269737074737062657368696923
Louis Verhelst7156736572696874626867716532
Maxim Van Gils6873716069737160687267686023
Jenthe Biermans7755616471746571666777696627
Aaron Verwilst7465666669716571656673646625
Dilmurdjon Siddikov7363657574747168656678727525
Wout Van Aert7563667072737268646869757928
Viktor Potocki6868697171727152656868717123
Alessandro Covi6570716169696560646462656224
Sasha Weemaes7160617272696555717167637224
Max Kroonen6658625863666361636470605822

Talking Points

Croatia14: Domen F***ing Novak got trained, that’s a W. Though you certainly would’ve expected Oomen to be the one, Novak is a great choice and the training massively improves the points tally. They’ll be great at the Giro with also Bonifazio, if the game doesn’t continue to think he is a rouleur. Lierse will be a fun squad at the Giro.

Did the team get better though? Last year they seemed to have what it takes to promote, but in the end they were far off. This year they lost Vanbilsen and…still could be better!? Maybe, with the promotion/relegation ratio, de Plus rising up the rankings as a puncheur (tried hard to sign him this year) and Gamper being by far the best u25 cobbler and a good TTer I can see them doing very well.

knockout: Domen Novak got trained, that’s a L. Don’t get me wrong, Novak is a cool rider who probably got slightly better but what do you really get through that training? He’s now probably a top 15 climber instead of a top 20 to 25 climber and he is now ahead of Arndt and closer to Bennett or Berhane in the MO/Hi hybrid races though obviously there are still Padun, Areruya, Beltran, Guldhammer and whoever of the better climbers wants to go to those too. The alternative was Oomen who is probably now somewhere between #5 and #15 in the stage race division but could have been the clear #3 in the division behind Madrazo and Haig (not counting Cattaneo because his TT skills open up very different race planning options) with very interesting long term training options if the team happens to promote to PT at any point. Seeing how early the team seemed to be done with transfers, it seemed obvious to me that the Oomen training check was signed and waiting to be used.

Now, why am i ranting so much about that decision? Well, there is not much else happening at the team. Vanbilsen was banned from the team for commiting the crime of turning 32 and was replaced by a new 22 year old that is the only rider not in the team in 2021. The team still looks like it should get into the promotion fight but if history prevails, it might once again not for whatever reason. If only they had a top three stage racer to properly push for promotion…

jandal: Domen Novak got trained, that’s… nice. If we were talking about the path to promotion it’s potentially true that either training Oomen or just keeping Vanbilsen, who looks like a really strong contender in this year’s division, would probably have been better options points-wise. But it’s so hard for me not to like that Novak training, partly being excited because I know how cool it is for Croatia, but mostly because he’s just such a cool rider type! Maybe I should just remember that I have two MO/HI guys of my own and then it’s easier to hate on…

As much as I like Kenny V, I do also see the value of Gamper as a leader, and will always be a Bonifazio truther hoping he gets that good AI treatment to deliver on that sexy FL-RES combo. De Plus I can take or leave but is on great wage value. Senni is going to do his Senni thing and be a quality guy in that 77-78MO tier with his energy stats. The depth isn’t huge behind there, and perhaps that suits this version of Oomen and Novak ok where you would have wanted better support for 82MO Oomen. Lierse definitely in the upper echelon of the 3rd-10th tier we seem to be discussing as the promotion contenders. How about this for a bet: one of them and Popo will finally promote this year.

AbhishekLFC: Love Novak and love the training for him as a standalone event. Does it make sense for the team? Don’t think so. I guess that’s what happens when you just want to sell old guys and expect to get back big money or ‘interesting’ youngsters. There was scope to turn over the team some more and invest in the obvious Oomen training. Well, maybe they have a plan for that going ahead and we’ll be eating our words this season already or in the near future. Like De Plus and Gamper as sub-top leaders on their terrains, and they should do well. Their depth on the climbs is not the greatest but their leaders should do fine on their own. They should be a Top 10 team for sure I think, but it seems like a missed opportunity for a sureshot direct promotion.


Edited by AbhishekLFC on 27-09-2022 15:20
A Big Thank You To All MG Reporters!

Minions - Subwoolfer

Mattia Cattaneo7082707976808054517062647932
Daniel Vesely7360685774687657818061715730
Rohan Dennis7274757873756753656869568132
Dusan Kalaba7465697070727657797958687826
Nathan Brown6875737674737260587165647731
Alvaro Hodeg7253656769747051797853647326
Luis Enrique Lemus Davila7077727275706856576271727230
Laurens Sweeck7362686871726276707167757129
Kazushige Kuboki7264727473726958767569647733
Dayer Quintana6976717073727650616367647030
Leandro Marcos7462736371657074657073646531
Mathias De Witte7460686175726775716964656129
Jasper Stuyven7063775875676862667479695830
Mikkel Bjerg7462667771757163686970677724
Evgenii Tikhonin7066726471716863687270676424
Jerome Coppel7059697668686050586466577636
Felix English7859646774736463717559697030
Laureano Rosas7259657572707351707455617632
Savva Novikov6571686568696760616869646423
Didier Merchan6272675962646858586564586023
Jan Stöckli6468686068666761596463705822
Mulu Hailemichael6068665864656658606667615823

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: Cattaneo to replace Henao is definitely an upgrade, while Rohan Dennis is a solid signing in any division. They also added Brown to that to make sure they have a solid stage racing unit. Vesely had a bad season last time around and will need to improve to help them move up the table. Their TT unit is on point as always and should bring in lots of points. Kalaba and Hodeg have already shown that they are capable sprinters, so they should bring in some much needed depth points. Unless something untoward happens, they should be looking at an improvement from last season.

Croatia14: Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum. Minions are going for another 1-year supply of PCT bananas with Cattaneo and Dennis, but those are damn delicious bananas. Fair Trade and well grown too, looking at that price tag. But premium quality. Gotta have a taste of banana wonderland PT if everything goes well, but in any case they’ll have to find new suppliers next year too, which is a trademark of this gritty group.

jandal: Mmm m yummy wummy banana wana jandal hungy. Cattaneo scrumptious too many sprint banana. ban a na yummy must eat so hungry mmm banana.

knockout: The MG version of Cattaneo is one of those riders that I’ve developed an almost irrational level of hate for no particular reason except hating that archetype of rider. So it kinda pains me to predict a huge season for him. I’m not too enthusiastic about Rohan Dennis as his sidekick. He seems to share too much of a similar profile to him. TT heavy stage races might be one of the better races to stack two leaders but I’d still argue that covering a different terrain or adding a second stage race leader would have been better for the team - even more so when both decline after the season. The third big-ish signing of the team is … yep another one for the TT heavy stage races. Well, TT heavy stage races might be one of the better races to stack three stronger riders but I’d still argue that covering a different terrain or adding a second stage leader would have been better for the team - at least he doesn’t decline. How do I go from there to saying that losing Zepuntke is no big loss without sounding like a hypocrite? Not sure. Anyway, I predict another midtable season for them.


Philips - Force India

Ki Ho Choi7181747577767963596868717431
Tiesj Benoot7175806375747476697162666228
Pierre Paolo Penasa7080747075727750577668647031
Tom Van Asbroeck7553716675727974807874687432
Pascal Eenkhoorn7178736976778065647169677525
Cristian Raileanu6677776374737656597069676529
Saya Kuroeda7453636772737577747863647127
Simone Velasco7372766075716864697675696227
Riccardo Minali7352585770747959797962747027
Shiki Kuroeda7263705276778276767367716330
Jan Xandri6876737368747260606975747128
William Barta6976727371747054726765567526
Tom Dumoulin7159687875767052656766607832
Dan McLay7356675574727972777662665530
Clement Champoussin6773736074737357597268726124
Joonas Henttala6674687373727250606763717331
Gijs Leemreize6573716468717060626871666423
Yannick Stoltz7759656371747062596982707734
Mick Van Dijke6867706971716867706870717022
Oscar Samuel Galvan Ramirez7169676867696750646669696922

Talking Points

jandal: So I guess it’s time to explain my reasons for the Philips hype train. Sure, I do want Philips to do well of course, but I do genuinely really like this squad. The bases are covered wonderfully well and although planning and a bit of luck will be huge in best utilising the climbers, TVA and even Benoot, that’s just the way it is and I believe in previewing these teams as squads with potential to be planned well rather than umming and ahing about who is planning-reliant. I really like the Choi move and Benoot is obviously such a cool rider with potential to be a killer in a few races and a very good second string puncheur elsewhere. My subliminal messaging about RES stats clearly worked as this team looks very solid, and that results in a domestique core that looks very good for depth scoring and leader supporting with the likes of Velasco and Barta. I like the four mid 70s COB riders with different strengths. I like that almost every RD will be covered with a quality leader. I like that Raileanu is there. This is surely a really fun team to manage Abhi and it will be a fun one to follow, and I think there is the potential for a really huge bang if every potential over-achiever does so, but at the very least I think this is finally the time Philips live up to the top half predictions they always get, and go beyond to challenge for promotion.

Croatia14: I don’t buy a ticket yet. The team does look good, I admit, but they also lost plenty of quality. Benoot and Choi are good, but the AI is not as beneficial to Benoot as it was in former games. Choi also suffers from riders like Haig being better versions of him, though I still rate him. However: The team slimmed down and replaced quantity with quality, big talents got better, depth is a real strength. I am not fully convinced by the jack of all trades, master of none approach (in PCT), but I agree that here it looks pretty damn good to rise up a step.

knockout: Jandal’s words of “every potential over-achiever” somehow resonates with me because i kinda see it the other way around. On paper, this looks like it could even be a potential promotion squad but too many riders are “potential under-achiever”. Benoot is the most obvious one, a rider with 80HI, 76CB, 75MO should be great but i’m certainly not in love with his backup stats and think that he has the potential to be a bust. I always see the Van Asbroeck type of rider as a bit too streaky. Could be quite good but also could be quite invisible. And then there are the Kuroeda bros, Raileanu, Eenkhorn, Velasco and third tier stage racers like Xandri or Barta who all look really interesting on paper but many of them have not really performed all too good last season and/or could easily be “look better than they will perform”. That said, this team will finally have nothing to do with relegation and i like the moves it did to transition away from the Kelderman era.

AbhishekLFC: I hope I read more of ‘over-performance’ this season than the usual ‘under-performance’ which has been a cornerstone of our efforts over the past few seasons.


Project: Africa

Natnael Berhane6881756677747352626867716532
Aidan Van Niekerk6975786572757666637482716525
Elias Afewerki7363646377708169798068707130
Amanuel Gebrezgabihier6870796674747253676977666428
Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay6777746571737658617158746531
Clenne Morvan Moulingui7453715271715378656864715227
Samuel Ssabagwanya7072755680757767607774725328
Olivier Lecourt De Billot7558696474736575617481646829
Costa Seibeb7175766670697159617380596630
Issiaka Cisse7453636773677863787773596531
Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg6968677769696762597466637733
Youcef Reguigui7276717372697150636968627532
Metkel Kiflay7463687673706863666964727731
Kent Main6873707371747458636973717326
Albert Kireva7568697573767269707371717632
Sirak Tesfom7462657669736753636771647528
Eddie Van Heerden6871736666696960637367666328
Louis Visser7163706872726865727275686724
Faycal Hamza7452637674737050566869637930
Frank Awuku6765686668717068707167646425
Clement Kusi6864707166707161646871677126
Didier Munyaneza6662716070696558567175685926
Ricardo Broxham6866676866666560676767656822
Jean Claude Nzafashwanayo6965666068706760625468676022

Talking Points

Croatia14: Very sorry to say it, but from my point of view this team is not built like a PCT team should be built. But that’s okay, cause it’s based on the African identity and role play. Aidan training Aidan is great, though in the wrong stat. He could be a CT monster though. Berhane is a decent climber and I like the support, so that should be the best source of points. I’d give Aidan the least chances of survival, but they’ll be the easiest to cheer for and one of the coolest teams in the whole peloton with that all-african approach probably leading towards an attacking spirit.

knockout: Outside of how everyone (me included) loved to see their signature trade of this off-season, I mostly want to make this backhanded compliment: Project: Africa looks like they set themselves up ideally to be CT champion 2023. I’m sure there somehow is a chance that Berhane and Van Niekerk perform strong enough to put the team's survival within the realms of possibility with breakaway luck and underperformance of other teams but I struggle to see it. The team is basically a strong CT team with a few additional talents attached to it. Using the entirety of the salary cap surely could have improved the team by a lot but I don't think I have ever seen a PCT team that could be put into a competitive CT team inside the salary cap with fewer off-season moves.

AbhishekLFC: Ouch! Those are some harsh words already, and unfortunately it will not get much better from me either! First the bright spots, Have always rated Berhane and think he will do well again, having done so in PT already. Then the feel good moment of the season with Aidan calling Aidan into his own team, and Aidan should be a great asset for Aidan for years to come. That’s where it ends I guess. Kudos on getting an all African setup but the quality to survive in the PCT is lacking, and it will take a mini-miracle for them to be able to survive.

jandal: Really sorry to say but I’m not going to be able to be much more positive than my fellow predictors here. Aidan van Niekerk is such a cool and likeable (even if he makes it hard by constantly beating Xero guys) rider with a certain PCM magic even without the very cool fact that (and I’m not sure if you guys know this because the others all failed to mention it) he now rides for manager-Aidan’s team, so really hope he pulls out some big results. “Berhane is only 15-20th in the division on paper in stage races and nobody else in the team is near his level” is the best way to sum it up. Beyond that… yes there’s better depth than some of the promoting teams and I don’t necessarily have them last - I wouldn’t rule it out though.


Red Bull Zalgiris

Kristoffer Halvorsen7658656374718070818070616826
Rafael Reis7081737678767856506466687630
Xuban Errazkin7174787076757664637369677026
Jose Fernandes7175707778777653626760687727
Tomohiro Hayakawa7363655075687657797975735030
Andris Smirnovs6868775674696768727878705632
Justas Beniusis7169607971737256576768687825
Felix Grossschartner6774776772737250627271686929
Sebastian Schönberger6672765973747157657175745928
Murilo Affonso6976727372707456546874537331
Ziga Groselj6963757272736853727272637229
Kashyapa Siriwardena6774737271737256586874657230
Mihkel Räim7462676173727571767576687429
Venantas Lasinis6875717271717259616867697225
Remco Evenepoel7469727274766063647080667222
Simone Consonni7258696471767666757565626528
Oscar Cabanas6871717473706856616670677531
Wen Hao Li7452607771666950747363637733
Giorgi Tediashvili7166686571747171677069656523
Mantas Januskevicius7068706973747055687073686823

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: At one point in transfers, they looked to be really struggling. Then they turned that around and ended up with a competitive team with a trained Halvorsen as the piece de resistance. Reis is a solid climber and should do fine in the PCT. Errazkin is not the greatest puncher but they have good depth in the hills to compensate for that. An expensive Beniusis isn’t the best TT rider in the division by a long shot, but their TTT setup is on point. I don’t expect them to make a promotion push this season, but they are very well set up for the future and should be aiming to make a promotion push in a couple of seasons’ time.

Croatia14: I praised quasdas enough to bloat his massive ego, so I better start off criticizing: Giving up Powless for Errazkin and Fernandes wasn’t a move I would’ve done. Instead of trading Powless and training Halvorsen, I think the money would’ve been better invested in buying Errazkin straight up and investing in another leader that is not Beniusis on insane wage. That would’ve made the team a surefire promotion, now they’re just in a good place to get there probably next year, possibly this one. The age structure is brilliant now, the team is well set with both Star Power and depth. A rare A, even if an A-, from my side, with the Asterisk of missing out on an almost surefire promotion (though apparently by choice of building 1 more year in PCT and turning everything on next year).

knockout: I’m not sure how to evaluate the transfer season of RBZ this year. On the one hand, i absolutely want to second Croatia’s first three sentences: I would have liked Powless a lot more than the trade package they got and Beniusis is probably the most irrational free agency wage of the off-season - even ahead of the Girmay madness (and I kinda hope that the exodus of top tier TT guys and possible race luck might not make this stupid move look slightly better in hindsight). On the other hand, they once again made some low wage bargains like they always do and they came away with one of the big three talents on a reasonable wage. I see a team that’s set up nicely for the future at the risk of only being a bottom half team this year.

jandal: I’m never sure how earnest I want to be when covering Zalgiris - do I want to overrate them or underrate them for the memes, or just say what I really think which is: I’m not sure? quadsas really must admire me so much as a manager, squad builder and person because the RES depth here is on point. I really love the squad building that has happened here both age and skills-wise and if the opportunity presents itself next off-season I can see one or two big moves turning them into title winners with a sustainable PT base to build on and everyone pretending they always loved quadsas and his management. Well… maybe not that far, but you see my point. Right here right now? I’m not sure, as said I love the base, Halvorsen could turn it on huge but I’m not sure I see where the actual other big points are coming from to match Croatia’s love here. Could be a top 10 push or higher, more likely could be in the respectable mud of 12-16th with the other usual suspects.


Edited by AbhishekLFC on 28-09-2022 14:49
Sauber Petronas Racing

Tejay Van Garderen7170806775726765687678736734
Tom David7462756576747078707368706532
Marc Hirschi7175776677777566667380766624
Kilian Frankiny6978766472757753617571666728
Sergei Pomoshnikov7179746478767452646661676432
Tom Jelte Slagter6777786570727250607081786533
Piter Campero6578706975707255567169746931
Bob Schoonbroodt7263756375736774687261746331
Jonathan Bellis7366766077686456727275666034
Nur Amirul Marzuki7071746471727074727264716330
Nawuti Liphongyu6875727473727465586368637331
Jamal Hibatullah6877726369667157607064655725
Sachin Dulanjana6774727475717763626160757527
Simon Pellaud7065776674687155657071676630
Mohammad Saufi Mat Senan6975716774717051587065596732
Ajay Pandit Chhetri6776716173656755647370786132
Winner Anacona6676716370676950505650546334
Muhammad Suhaimi Ghani7168736571686874636167676427
Zhihui Jiang7261666569737262757565737928
Luca Forcellini6770746770657052617258575932
Andrea Enrico Maccagli7263667570716861636869707527
Diego Rossi7365696970706870686970657322
Yannis Voisard6570676167687160616368686324
Michael Antonelli6868676367686756656968756423

Talking Points

jandal: Sauber have five very likeable punchy cobblers, headed up by Tom David, who is never as good as he really should be with that statline but is a very cool second-tier guy in the classics. However, as cool that unit looks, it’s not going to bring more than a few hundred points, and so the burden of leading another miracle survival charge is once again headed up by the depth of the climbing and hills squads. Tejay van Garderen has declined and looks like a fringe top 10 puncheur now and may not be able to play the hero for them once again, and I can tell you right now I am making personally sure there is no fairytale GC win in some forgotten MO-HI stage race for Killian Frankiny this year, though I’m sure he will still do just fine. Marc Hirschi is super cool and U25 eligible (and for another year too), while Pomoshnikov and Slagter are known quantities (the latter a slightly declined one) who will be decent but not amazing. Then there is solid depth including a couple of guys who can actually TT which will be a nice change, it will come down to good planning, luck and depth scoring for these guys and as cool as it would be to see a team like this survive I’m not sure I can see it - though I have them above a few teams as I’m writing so

knockout: In a very weird way this team reminds me a bit of my new team: Ignoring time trials and sprints / flat classic completely while having some versatile second tier guy on the cobbles with big hopes that Mo/Hi hybrids are performing well. However, that's where the similarities end. Tejay and Slagter are past their prime, Hirschi not ready yet and Frankiny or Pomoshnikov might be a lot of things, but they are surely no PCT leaders. I see a realistic chance that they won’t have a 400 points scorer and saying that about a team that ignores so many terrains (including tt heavy mountainous/hilly stage races) raises a lot of red flags about their odds of staying up this year. Don’t get me wrong, the team has enough potential scorers in the uphill races to deliver well enough but they need stellar race selection, planning and the necessary amount of luck to survive if they don’t want to figure out how to fit Hirschi into the CT salary cap.

Croatia14: If it’s reminding you of your team then they should be “just” fine. On a more serious note though, I also get these Kraftwerk-ish vibes. Mountain is probably one of the few terrains where a depth approach works well, and if you want to avoid terrains this is the best way of doing so. However, such an approach often needs a winner, and the team has none. Slagter will benefit by the probably more mountain heavy approach to hilly classics and so will the rest of the team that does this so well, but then van Garderen seems like a misfit. He’s the guy that would’ve been great with the EBH-approach to CT, and the money could have (or should have!?) been invested into a rider that does well on other races. I know one that was very cheap and on great wage: Ranawe… oh wait…I think the team missed a chance to set themselves very well for a PT push in 2023 building around Frankiny, Hirschi, the guy that shouldn’t be named and 2 proper new captains, now I’m more sceptical. Sammy needs to do some great planning to convince me that his approach was a beneficial one to Saubers success this year.

AbhishekLFC: Having narrowly survived last season, this was a chance for Sauber to push on and establish themselves as a PCT team. They went the other way unfortunately, probably selling the wrong leader in Ranaweera, instead of Van Garderen and not really covering that loss with any great leader signing. Sure, they got David, who I really loved last season, but he is not the one to help them stay afloat in the division. Instead, that will come down to the mountain and the hills squads, and despite having depth for days there, they look to be heading towards a season of struggle! The depth in the other areas run out after a few minutes, with cobbles probably lasting a few hours to help keep the fight going a bit longer. It will take an inspired Van Garderen and multiple overperforming sub-top leaders to have a shot at a repeat of last season’s escape act.



Romain Sicard7180767477767955626775637434
Lucas Manuel Gaday7167756575727178717361646829
Fabio Felline6866776475737157747868716432
Muhamad Zawawi Azman6976776369727350657576696428
Pawel Poljanski6677776770707656617173666732
Nacer Bouhanni7455635574697459807764585532
Wesley Kreder7364756375717766777871676332
Daniele Dall'Oste7076766771747556587173716731
Logan Owen7365696273717278647168746427
Kristaps Budenieks6975756370757270697475726127
Kristian Sbaragli7656666276707972777858616232
Thanawut Sanikwathi7258666570677572787866726829
Sonny Colbrelli7456616074727659797555706632
Pawel Bernas7661756675716862707382716532
Peeter Tarvis7670746174736668647269596129
Jesper Hansen7264756476697464667569716932
Joanis Albert Nielsen7554676671757274737164677029
William Maesen6475726171737851506070666031
Bert-Jan Lindeman7254635970676375737463605933
Jens Debusschere7257655872717070706668676333

Talking Points

knockout: Strava has assembled a lot of cool riders once again. Whether it’s Gaday, Azman, Dall’Oste or Budenieks, many of them look like typical old-school Strava guys who are always good for the odd overperformance. However, only Sicard is a proper PCT leader and since i don’t trust their sprint armada to perform good enough that could put them into trouble. Despite a lot of interesting moves, I think they might get drawn into the relegation fight.

Croatia14: No doubts about that relegation fight, but Shonak has shown that he is one of the better managers in terms of planning. I would’ve loved to see them buy Vanbilsen as he could’ve been a great fit, but they got some good young riders on their payroll now. Sicard certainly is a one-year rental, and while I understand critics on the approach I also like that they didn’t go all in already by getting only old riders to somehow survive, but building a culture again. They had very few tradable assets and an awful FA market on offer on top of starting late. But even if they relegate into CT, they can build around great wage/reward riders like Azman, Owen and Budenieks (all smart transfers with regards to their age) and a much better looking Gaday in terms of wage to reward. They built a base for whatever division, and that is some smart business.

AbhishekLFC: A bit of nostalgia here, as the first race I reported back in the 2017 season was Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and Boeckmans launched a late attack to catch out the stronger cobbles riders and sprinters, in a reduced bunch sprint to take a surprise win. No surprises for guessing who he rode for as I write this here. Since then, Strava have disbanded, been out of the MG for two seasons, come back in 2020, spent two seasons in CT, and are now back to the PCT.

After that MG history recap, it’s time to get down to them this time. I really like two signings that they have made - Sicard and Gaday. Both should over-perform their stats, despite the former having declined twice now. I also think that they have a solid mountain and cobbles support team behind their leaders. I somehow do not like the Owen signing, which on its own would’ve been great, but having signed Gaday, was overkill. I also think at least one of Poljanski, Dall’Oste and Budenieks was unnecessary, in addition to Sbaragli, Kreder, Sanikwathi and Colbrelli all being there in a team with Bouhanni leading the sprints. One of those climbers and two of those sprinters, in addition to not signing Owen, could definitely have been replaced with another stronger leader for the hills or TT, in which case I would’ve been sure that they would survive this season. I guess all this is easier said in hindsight and maybe the reason they ended up with this team structure was because they were not able to get their intended targets. Right now, I put them right on the edge of relegation places, and any small slip-ups will definitely push them back down.

jandal: I think Abhi’s take of them being “on the edge” of the relegation line is spot on - not in the bottom three (yeah so I wrote that thing about tiers a week ago and now I don’t think it’s true, sue me) and with a fighting chance at survival - but an uphill battle. Luckily uphill is what this team love and with Sicard where they’ll hope a lot of their points to reach that line can come from. However, as knockout said, what makes us all love this team is those riders like Gaday, Budenieks, Kreder or Bernas who look like they have the potential to catch a bit of that Strava magic the whole Man-Game used to go crazy about. Those guys unleashing the magic on top of Sicard and the good looking depth is what will make the difference for them and hopefully deliver another year in the PCT.


Team Popo4Ever p/b Morshynska

Mark Padun6782776672747653607576706526
Aleksandr Pluchkin7081717572727066636863627535
Oleksandr Prevar7271806277706853677363666232
Aliaksandr Riabushenko7663686271747666797766686727
Simon Spilak6578757070716863606464617036
Petr Rikunov6977737473717451676663747625
Roman Lutsyshyn7050546469737455798058577028
Zouzou Andriafenomananiaina6576727474747656527176647028
Stanislaw Aniolkowski7462655674737862787757645925
Heiko Redecker7357726274677952777860606332
Nipuna Shira Manamalage8151595271645677575664615730
Oleksandr Golovash7260607872696655737661657831
Roman Gladysh7169756471717261707473696627
Anatoliy Budyak6874786872677356576863746827
Adrian Nitu6876746573706853527062626532
Nicolae Tanovitchii7268766075727157627179686029
Andrii Bratashcuk6971775875706952626765795830
Volodymyr Dzhus6576706474746855587570636429
Artem Topchanyuk6776726470706857596872626433
Peter Varga7761666176736967658083746329
Andriy Orlov6958766774686955637074646730
Martin Papanov6772706970707254656667667323
Matic Zumer6868675666726156657571785725
Pangiotis Christapopoulos7060707469686362626873667327
Oleksandr Shevchenko6960676572736761616875736423
Yaroslav Parashchak6964695768676858596768665722

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: At 35 years of age, Pluchkin is not the top dog anymore, but he is still around and more than capable of handling himself. Padun is the new kid on the block and will look to take over the reign from the team’s long time standard bearer. Padun is as good a replacement as they come! Prevar always has the occasional win in him but is never quite consistent to be a top puncher in the division. The rest of the team is solid, with no out and out top rider, but I do expect them to pick points wherever they go. Can’t say that for certain for cobbles, but everywhere else should be safe.

knockout: The perfect marriage between Pluchkin and Popo4Ever is nearing its end but it's not over yet: Pluchkin still is fairly strong and will continue to contribute to the team. Prevar, Spilak and especially Padun are also good uphill leaders that will lead the team into another top half finish but without that dominant Pluchkin from the past, i don’t see them finally achieving promotion.

Croatia14: It’s not Pluchkins team anymore, it’s Paduns team. The Torch has been passed, and the new regional star looks terrific. Two mountain leaders works very well in PT, they’ll be able to completely separate the schedules smartly. Prever is on great wage/reward, so is Budyak (WTF is that wage!?). I think with a weaker division they could, or better should promote, but you never know with fjhoekie. I think it could be their year though. And a hot take: I already see Sagan replacing Pluchkin for next year…

jandal: Who knows anymore - I can’t imagine what being a fan of this team must be like, seeing the same conversation about if this is the year while the team remains at a standstill as Padun’s improvement fill in the gaps of Pluchkin’s decline, as the team gets predicted just outside the direct promotion spots and then finishes slightly too far outside. However if you offered most teams the chance to be always in the top 10 of the division, while having plenty of wins to cheer and one of the best talents around coming to the fore, they’d surely take it. However we know the manager (as much as he denies it) and fans surely want a step up and once again… yeah they definitely could do it?. Aside from the two changing mountain stats there’s really not much to say - they have a pretty similar “base strength” so to speak, it’s just about the fact that last year that strength couldn’t get them promoted - is the top third of the table weaker by enough that they can? I think maybe so, but much like the fans of the team I’ve been burned before - I’ll only believe it when they’re on the startline in Tasmania in 2023. If you recognise this answer there’s a good reason for it - if you won’t change the roster I won’t change my answer!


Trans Looney Tunes

Kenneth Vanbilsen7850696380747580727172616332
Lilian Calmejane7471776773767460727678707030
Sven Erik Bystrom7268796175726756687678736130
Zico Waeytens7071806572706867667376756531
Marc Christian Garby6579706871767550527072636831
Rok Korosec7168756874717162757870697129
Gyung Gu Jang6776766272707054667473566232
Rüdiger Selig7052646471667362787963586433
Roman Senyenov7062776368736560687372736329
Iliyan Kolev7552626073716577626771646628
Luka Pibernik7265766076686861687472676229
Pieter Vanspeybrouck7262675872656378636370755835
Sergio Luis Henao Montoya6678676769736850546766586735
Pit Schlechter7459726771676875616672676732
Tomoyuki Iino6776726771707153586571646733
Benjamin Dyball7075727473697053607068637233
Harm Vanhoucke7075717069717463676872707125
Nikita Novikov6876716972696955616868666933
Tesfay Abraha7256646170716675747267686132
Ivan Centrone7462715972677076535874756227
Michael Cuming7074747274707158646974637232
Matteo Sobrero6969717367727258646966647125
Owain Doull7259657371706871737363657529
Jan Ghyselinck7259667572746859626572597534

Talking Points

jandal: A three-pronged approach from Trans relying on big mountain, hill and cobbles depth but for me the first two are not quite good enough domestiques in service of definitely not good enough leaders. If there’s a list of ten non-Xero riders I’ve professed my love for the most Calmejane is definitely on there, and I really hope he is separated from Bystrom and Waeytens, who, as much as I clown on the latter, aren’t really that awful but neither are they approaching great, which is what is needed. Garby is fine but is much more well-suited as a secondary leader, either of a barebones mountains squad or doing his own thing while that train is built around someone of at least a Shikai/Reis level. Shoutout to Rok Korosec for being something unique (and again hopefully not just a Waeytens support rider) and also to the whole team for being useful in some way which I think is only true of maybe two other teams.

The cobbles unit is definitely the best they have but with some weak RES stats and no major FL, CB or SP secondary stats in the domestiques, certified PCT icon Kenneth Vanbilsen who II do like a lot doesn’t have as great a squad as it looks from the main stats. Considering that Danny Summerhill at the peak of his powers has failed to save a similar looking team from relegation, I’m unfortunately doubtful Vanbilsen can outdo him.

Croatia14: The good thing about having good cobblers but no sprinters is that they often do decent as attackers in the mandatory sprint classic. That makes Vanbilsen a great buy for the limited finances. The support is also good enough to be competitive. However, the other pillar of success for TLT, puncheurs, is only good at 2nd thought: My first thought is that neither likes Waeytens or Bystrom too much due to a lack of versatility and feels like Calmejane is hindered by them. The second thought however has seen teams like ISA or Tinkoff doing surprisingly well by staggering one-dimensional lower level riders, which lead to guys like Chernetskiy Top10ing WT classics and Vakoc even winning one. On third thought though, I do not see that approach working this well in PCT, where the classics seem less “pre-determined” to be hills only like the Ardennes week f.e. does. That is why I would’ve liked this line-up in PT (or CT) on the hills more than in the hybrid-friendly PCT. Thus I see the team struggle with no climber or TT guy of note (depth here rarely works without a goal rider or punchy attacking stats), so I would expect a tough season for the team. A little bit of looneyness and a daring way of planning and racing could save them however.

knockout: I see a solid chance that Zico Waeytens will be the team’s top scorer this season. When I say that, I want to summon Ollfardh to make an expert prediction whether a team with Zico Waeytens as top scorer has any chance to survive. Talking about Ollfardh and bad experiences, Vanbilsen had a terrible season last year. His climbing abilities worry me a lot but he has superb support and could be a good scorer for flat and cobbled classics. If he continues on last year’s level with so much help that would be a worrying sign for all cobblers without a tiny bit of climbing strength. Outside of these two leaders, the best thing to highlight is the depth on the hills. Despite liking both Bystrom and even more so Calmejane, I’m not convinced they will perform strong enough to overcome the lack of quality elsewhere to the level that is necessary to survive when Garby is your climbing “leader” and Selig the sole sprinter in the squad.

AbhishekLFC: I love their cobbles team. But beyond that it isn’t an ideal setup for me. I think Vanbilsen should do better this season, stress on should, because with PCM you never know. The backup for him should also ensure very good depth scoring for them in cobbles. Garby is not a great leader on the mountains and Henao Montoya is a shell of his former self having declined for three seasons now. The hills squad needs to be handled very well to get the best out of them. Neither Bystrom nor Calmejane will be best utilized as a domestique to Waeytens and I’m not sure there are enough hills racedays to best utilize all of them. It will be tough for them to survive, even if Vanbilsen regains his past glories and I see them going down again.


Edited by AbhishekLFC on 28-09-2022 15:05
Volcanica - Fox

Jonas Ahlstrand7460676074737967838259647232
Nairo Quintana6882747177767652516673617132
Johan Esteban Chaves7076796874737254607269646832
Marko Kump7264756173707571797768716834
Gabriel Marin7457656573737667787863666928
Patrick Naud7662736472737174646778756431
Walter Trillini7064756575697357737670677331
Jesus Herrada6675737472727054656971647332
Pablo Mudarra7168776274707151646862646531
Roman Villalobos7170746469697160667572686532
Gregory Brenes6476706668756557566561626634
Erick Herrera6473736368737352616667646126
Michel Ries6975696173737058617072756124
Andrei Amador6377687167646550606264647036
Axel Zingle7162676068736761747464656324
Henry Antonio Rojas6767716272696968667269696523
Enkhtaivan Bolor-Erdene7762667171777063647371717127
Cristofer Robin Jurado7367696766707168686964667027
Jason Huertas7062677271706960727374657324
John Jimenez Retana6758635765666467727563676323
Kevin Rivera6771685968696857607070665824
Santiago Montenegro6664686365686762626765656324
Sergio Chumil6467676668686755626666676622
Gabriel Francisco Rojas6668666567666750646766686522
Bryan Fernando Mendoza6768636669696955626667676724
Sergio Arias Villanueva6960627069696661626868657024
Harold Martin Lopez6267666364666358626360626122
Nicolas David Gomez6558625865676358677058615822
Joseph Ivan Samudio6953596369676564656671606623
Lenin Javier Montenegro6158586363636058585858585822

Talking Points

jandal: I want to say that I really do respect the stones it takes to have almost an entire PCT roster of unmaxed guys in your first year team, but it seems like total overkill. Then I saw that the wage they take up would be enough for literally any rider in the PCT except Kinoshita and I really wasn’t sure. It feels like such a contradiction and yet to perfectly make sense that you would supplement trying to build this cool young regional core (which is way too many riders when you think of it like that) that is supported by an impressively old ass group of leaders: 32, 32, 32 and 34, with key domestiques 31, 32, 31, 32 and 34. I see the base but young leaders would really make this team everyone’s darling - so I hope they come next year. Down to the focus on the Americas it screams Azteca to me, right down to Ahlstrand + Quintana being a similar level to Summerhill + Eastman. I am not sleeping on Kump, especially with Trillini in support, or Chaves to provide some joy in the hybrids, but Volcanica remain a hard nut to crack. I think they will be fine for sure - Ahlstrand is way too good with decent enough other guys to make sure of that. For the team in the big picture I’ll reserve judgement until I see their moves next year, but for now the brilliant Ahlstrand signing and other good enough work means that they have bought at least a year to build the project up more which I love to see.

knockout: Ahlstrand might be the biggest steal of free agency. The big question about Volcanica is: Is there a chance that Ahlstrand has a mediocre season? If he delivers to the level you would expect, then Quintana, Chaves and Kump should be good enough to secure survival. If he only performs to the level of last year’s Ewan, then Volcanica is in danger because the huge number of mediocre talents will severely limit team support and depth scoring in all areas.

Croatia14: In many ways Volcanica did something in between Podium Ambition last year and my squad in my PCT season. Ahlstrand was the biggest steal, surely. If DarkWolf keeps all the leaders separate (especially Kump and Ahlstrand!) I can even see the team in direct promotion. Teams like Bralirwa and Los Pollos have shown how it’s done. You can also fall down with such an approach, as f.e. Quintana experienced last season or a certain Tryg squad banking on Skujins and Wellens giving up their depth has shown. Extremely high ceiling, but also extremely low floor especially with Ahlstrand. It does require very careful planning. Not sure if DarkWolf has the experience to do so. I respectfully project a tough season, but I can also imagine another Cinderella story from Latin America.

AbhishekLFC: Strong mountain leader with solid depth, arguably the best pure sprinter in the division, two great sub-top leaders for the hills and sprints, and yet I do not feel confident enough to say that they will have a great season. Along with HelloFresh, Volcanica are the other team I find very hard to predict this season. Quintana did not perform to expectations last season and I don’t find much reason to believe that he will improve, given the strength of the division in his area this time. Ahlstrand, conversely, was very good in PT, but we’ve seen with Ewan how having the best sprint stats isn’t necessarily a measure of sure success in the PCT. Chaves and Kump should be solid though and both have able support if they need it. I guess their season success will come down to how the top two go, and whether they find favour with the game engine or not. I can see their fortunes swinging right from promotion contenders to relegation battlers, which seems incredible, but that’s just the feeling I’m getting.


Voyagin - Bird

Tomohiro Kinoshita7372836680777359687773716631
Chen Shikai7281717674767855576759697630
Jiankun Liu7463676376698065808064686727
Kyeng Ho Min6879766675777063626669696626
Antoine Duchesne7067776873726756697971516831
Jingbiao Zhao7458656668747458778156717827
Xianjing Lyu6673766373747250637371746524
Rei Onodera7466697875747161656864687527
Yamato Shirota6875755869687355637873585828
Yudai Arashiro8160646271677368707578686627
Tushantha Rajapakshage7264707671726861506975547830
Edoardo Zardini6875766668646467716671737133
King Lok Cheung7559677772746957636664727731
Leszek Plucinski7173727170707159697069697032
Jiri Polnicky7064716272696674626867746833
Atsushi Oka7165677270706964757567647727
Mingrun Chen6873706270747456656958636226
Masaki Yamamoto6970717264666757677170677026
Shoi Matsuda7265697267736360697060637423
Miori Kawasaki6967676565716460616773636923
Richard Huera6766676168686561646668656223

Talking Points

jandal: I’m not sure if Voyagin, more than even a Lierse or a Popo, knew that the PCT would look weaker than last year, and so just stayed with everything in place, but I think it will work for them. I was surprised last year by them ending up in the relegation fight but this year I have them where they should be, in the top 10 and competing for promotion spots. As I think we all seem to agree those spots look very open for at least 10 teams and I’m not sure Voyagin are one of the top contenders, but a team with Kinoshita has star power like few others and then just needs to get things right. Shikai and Liu are two riders who are constantly better than I think they should be, and they’ll need to be maximising themselves because behind them scoring looks really thin. Min is a decent climber but no longer has U25 scoring to help him, and given his tendency towards the MO/HI races to avoid Shikai I would guess his ACC is a liability if he wanted to consider overachieving. There’s some likeable domestiques after that but I really don’t consider any of them sneaky scorers, maybe Duchesne in his Kinoshita-free days if he finds some breakaways, but the rest of them are pure doms. So Kinoshita needs to be dominating the hills like the old days, including making that +2HI count when Areruya and Beltran are around which I think he will. The problem is then that I just don’t buy Shikai and Liu as guys who will score enough to get them over the line given the lack of depth here. But surely a sizable rankings improvement by virtue of the division changing around them.

knockout: Voyagin is another of those teams that rarely seem to change their look. Their top trio from last season returns and the hope of Kinoshita and Shikai stopping their underperformance from last season is probably the biggest factor in the hope for a better season while Liu will look to repeat his fairly good season. The biggest change is replacing underperfing Lunke with Min who performed nicely last season and looks like an upgrade. All in all, this screams midtable squad to me with the chance to go slightly higher if Kinoshita turns into a dominant force on the hills again.

Croatia14: Very good takes I can’t add a lot towards it from an analytical point of view. However: Kinoshita needs Beltran and Areruya to neutralize each other to become better, otherwise it’ll go the opposite direction as the team’s ceiling is bound to Kinoshitas ceiling. Probably a more solid than flashy team in 2022, both racing- and rankings wise. Min was a first good step to transition the team towards 2023 though.

AbhishekLFC: With the puncher exodus from the division, Kinoshita should do much better for them, which will prevent a repeat of last season. Min is a great signing to complement Shikai, who should be solid as always. There’s also no reason why Liu cannot repeat his 2021 season. Their TTT team is strong as well, which bodes well for stage races. All in all, I can see them pushing for a Top 10 spot, despite not doing too much in transfers, even if Kinoshita just about reaches his potential. Anything better from the leaders, and they can be an outside shot at promotion.


Xero Racing

Joseph Areruya7279816576787953687675606526
George Bennett6781766575747958657355636531
Hugo Houle7866756976717965797870696932
Robert Stannard7272776773757367687672686824
Daniel Habtemichael6778747474737652596668697425
James Fouche6676736971727562617373656924
Bachirou Nikiema6969756271737165707573716325
Morne Van Niekerk7661677873757264616772647727
Henok Tesfaye Heyi7570736774766555687378667229
Jamalidin Novardianto7661686870787469737974687528
Salim Kipkemboi6773755767727155637471685924
Johann Van Zyl7471747374747271626673607331
Florian Vermeersch7162667068716370707467757223
Yacine Hamza7360666070716860737365646325
Nils Schomber7354587466766850696965648128
Darren Young7156617467727171727265707431
Corbin Strong6767685865726858677060655822
Regan Gough6860646865676763717269647226
Ilan Van Wilder6568686863686460676864666722
Vito Braet6960665870716368686762606422
Henri Vandenabeele6669675962696860636664685922

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: How do you go from selling Higuita, Rowe and more, to having a better team than last season? Two words - trained Areruya. The young Rwandan is arguably the best overall puncher in the division after his training. But he isn’t the only one that should be scoring for them. Bennett should be as solid as always, with very good depth in both the hills and mountains squad adding to the point-scoring. Houle is already a proven scorer for them and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the case again. Considering that they have a whole host of talents coming through in the next couple of years and a bit more, including someone like Stannard and Fouche, it is a testament to great team building. While jandal might not agree, I do believe they are a sure promotion contender and probably a podium contender for the season.

knockout: I don’t see the podium contender here. Sure, Areruya will be outstanding but I don’t see the depth scoring that made past PCT Xero teams so strong. Sure, Bennett and Houle are still very strong and cool and everything but behind him I don't see the riders that have a big upside or that niche where they can shine so much. Habtemichael, present day Stannard or Van Niekerk are good but they are not the sort of pieces you probably would need to get to finish on the podium.

Croatia14: I do. Areruya can do lots, and a big leader means so much already (and was something Xero was missing in the past). The game has evolved, but Bennett is a great wage/reward rider and Houle covers the amazing races. I still see glaring holes (why didn’t you renew Debesay back then, again?), but you can maneuver around TT and cobbled races with PCTs race choice. Xero is for real, if jandal can create a set-up to make them blossom. A lot depends on the race days without Houle, Bennett and Areruya and how jandal works his allrounders there (races for van Zyl, Habtemichael,...?).

jandal: Well after the training question I knew I would have to do some explaining on why I didn’t train Areruya in MO (like I had told you all I would for months) and also now you guys have me needing to revisit one of my worst days as manager when I didn’t secure Debesay by R3 last year… yeah that one was just stupidity. The Areruya training switch was just me panicking about not promoting and having a tough renewals in PCT next year with the four guys maxing out, and I thought he’d score more this year to help me promote as 81HI rather than 81MO, which I like more long term and think is more fun hence why it was always my plan. So, if my reason was wanting to promote, do I think it’s happening? No! Definitely coming down on the side of knockout here rather than you other two - have to hard disagree with Abhishek’s ludicrous take on looking stronger than last year, and don’t have us anywhere near the podium. Appreciate the support and can’t wait for Abhi’s identical answer in the Philips question on why I’m overhyping his team :P


Zara - Irizar

Rein Taaramäe7181747773747050567066667535
Fabio Jakobsen7459675975738173808067686926
Enric Mas6978776874747756607773706827
Nicola Conci7177747776757856636863717725
Benoit Cosnefroy7668717878817269696981747827
Andres Paez7372776874707358737676656827
Hugo Hofstetter7462706471717573777871686628
Marc Soler6976717476747654546660617729
Ruben Fernandez6675756672697257606672726531
Jaime Castrillo7766677675727255707371677626
Benjamin Thomas7356667875737064747964667927
Nico Keinath7075727171706755586467597135
Arthur Vichot6863746374656458647780716334
Leonardo Henrique Finkler6767726471696861667071686223
Jules Hesters7160626070736769737463666024
Jake Stewart7162696867716369707066677023
Nickolas Zukowsky6863697070696961707177667124
Luis Fernando De La Cruz Chapulin6765696070726864677171676522
Julian Cardona7064627369706562646760657325
Pau Miquel6766695870726861636565675822
Henry Alberto Sam6965656970686758666972687023
Yentl Vandevelde6858626965656560626568656922

Talking Points

AbhishekLFC: The talent-squad extraordinaire is now much more settled and is already well suited to the PCT without having to make too many changes to their squad in the off season. Adding Taaramae, despite him being 35 years old, is a smart move, irrespective of the hugely stacked stage race field in the PCT this season. The former GT winner has great depth behind him, as has the TT and flat squads, which is where the bulk of their scoring can be expected. The hills should bring in some points, but there’s no top leader there while the cobbles are non-existent so to say. This should not be a hindrance though, and I see them being a top half PCT team this season and possibly pushing on to make a promotion push with a couple of additions as early as next season. A big shoutout to Philips legend Keinath, who gets another ride with this team this season.

knockout: Zara looks like the strongest promotion team to me and seem like the only one that shouldn't be too scared of the relegation fight. Taaramae is a great addition if maybe a bit old and Conci, Cosnefroy, Jakobsen, Mas, Paez the great core they already had last year that was praised for years already. However, I feel like this transfer window was a bit of a missed opportunity for the team. The team added once again multiple young talents to the team but Taaramäe and Hofstetter are the only short term improvements. Having Taaramae, Conci, Cosnefroy, Thomas, Castillo and Soler, I would have loved to see a proper push to get into the vacant top dog position in PCT TTT. Signing one or two more cheap TTT assets could have really put Taaramae, Conci and Cosnefroy into niches to score huge. Whether that’s buying bargain one-dimensional TT guys like Wen Hao Li or (if the cash depot is entirely empty) signing someone like Erik Rowsell or Beukeboom for min wage at the end of transfers instead of going for Vichot could have already improved their team by a lot imo.

Croatia14: That TTT note indeed is an important one, as it would’ve helped to maximize Concis output against the likes of Dunbar and Kämna. He already suffers from clashing “best race days” with Taaramae. The Estonian will keep the team afloat, Jakobsen already enjoyed C1 last year and also looks not far off Halvorsen and his success at Red Bull last year. The team is rock solid, but I miss them adding 1-2 great pieces more in the timeline of Jakobsen and Conci than what they got (and even if so I would’ve loved if they tried to get Cataford). Now I see a good team that can end up anywhere in the standings, but the (almost unfair) base advantage over other promoting teams could’ve made them go for even more.

jandal: Definitely can back up the point that this plus two low wage TT guys is a much better team, but already the TTT train looks pretty good here and certainly won’t hurt them in those races. Taaramae and Jakobsen are very good second tier guys while Mas should also be in that level for them with his cool statline, should be a great piece for them if planned properly. Conci too, he and Pogacar should both be trying to avoid the other so he should get some U25 wins as well as podiums and just good results in general. I could run through the rest of it more but the others covered it well, I just want to say how much I like this team, both the structure, the riders and the ages, such a cool long-term project that now has gone straight back into PCT and look well at home and only going to get better - this should be a fun year to plan and figure some things out without too much pressure either direction and valuable learning to grow next year and beyond.


Edited by AbhishekLFC on 28-09-2022 15:32
Statistical Outcome

For the statistical outcome we aggregated the scores by each member for all 6 categories to have a final score. The average of our scores creates a statistical outcome, which ranks the teams on the final score. Here is what our numbers suggest for 2022:

14Red Bull51.475
15Assa Abloy50.80
21Project: Africa41.50

At the front it's a two horse race between Amaysim and Bralirwa, with the former edging it out comfortably to be in pole position for the title race. Carlsberg quite comfortably sits in third, while Binance also cuts the edge pretty clearly. Xero leads a very close race for 5th with best promoted team Volcanica, but the gap between 5th and 3rd is bigger than betwwn 5th and 16th, so the race is completely open.

On the bottom side statistics suggest 5 rather clear relegation candidates in Strava, Project: Africa, Trans, Sauber and Crabbe. However, the gaps inside these bottom 5 are very small. Likewise, the gap to Indosat, Gjensidige and Kraftwerk is not that big, so there definitely is hope.
Edited by Croatia14 on 29-09-2022 14:18
"Expert" Predictions

In a final step, the conglomerate "experts" adjust their statistical predictions to external factors such as calendar, experience and the dirty secrets PCM20 whispers into our ears. Floor, ceiling and past outcomes alongside the good old gut feeling surely played a part too.

4BinanceXeroBinanceAssa Abloy
5CarlsbergRed BullPhilipsPhilips
7VoyaginAssa AbloyLierseLierse
8LierseBinanceAssa AbloyXero
11Red BullZaraZaraVoyagin
13VolcanicaVoyaginRed BullMinions
16GjensidigeKraftwerkHelloFreshRed Bull
18Assa AbloyVolcanicaIndosatVolcanica
22Project: AfricaStravaTransSauber
23TransCrabbeProject: AfricaTrans
24CrabbeProject: AfricaCrabbeProject: Africa

As already suggested in the statistical outcome, it's Amaysim and Bralirwa fighting it out for the win, with success to the former in 3/4 predictions. All the same also have Carlsberg in 3rd, while they promote in evey approach. The other promotion positions are pretty contensted with 2*Xero, 2*Binance, 2*Philips, 1*Assa Abloy and 1*Red Bull predicted to promote. Shoutouts to Popo4Ever, who are missing out on promotion narrowly in every prediction (yes, we submitted our predictions all in a way that nobody saw each others prediction until everybody had submitted).

In the midfield, Lierse leads the charge being always in the Top10 but never in the promotion range. The mentioned promotion candidates do decent, with only Assa Abloy and Philips missing the Top10 once. Oh, and Red Bull only entering the Top10 once (but promoting there), stupid expert there... The likes of Zara, Voyagin and to an extent also Kraftwerk all place comfortably midtable, not getting too close to promotion or relegation zones anywehere. Cedevita, Hello Fresh and Volcanica place in the lower half of the midfield, but never in urgent relegation danger.

That differs for Indosat and Gjensidige: Both almost everywhere avoid the drop closely, but in one prediction Gjesidige narrowly falls down. Left are five teams, of whose Sauber at least once managed to avoid the drop. Elsewhere four teams seem pretty doomed going by our experts, though Strava almost everywhere got close to survival. For Trans (never last at least), Crabbe and Project:Africa there is a tough season ahead, with survival seemingly only happening if they do an amazing job at planning or having the necessary race luck.

In one last ranking we merge the "expert predictions" in one final ranking:

TeamAvg Position
9Assa Abloy9,25
12Red Bull11,25
24Project: Africa23,25

Thank you for reading and interacting, it was a pleasure to do the preview once more!
Edited by Croatia14 on 29-09-2022 15:01
Nice boys! Great preview so far, i love it. Also nice to see us not getting predicted as the worst team Wink
Luis Leon Sanchez
Enjoyed this so far!! Good read and responses to the questions. Happily taking the good comments about my team so far but will see what your collective thoughts are when focussed on a team by team basis.
Love seeing this back! Always an absolutely phenomenal read that covers all the bases and does so in a cool format. Thank you all for your contributions!

Not sure what to make of the comments putting us in the promotion hunt this time around. We were obviously projected to be there last year and flubbed our planning enough to miss even the top 10. Not sure much has changed in my planning skill this time around. Obviously interested to see how you guys analyze it in the full team section though!

I knew the Aranburu training was controversial before I pulled the trigger, so not unexpected to see that expressed above. I can't deny that his lack of stamina and acceleration is a major issue, and he is likely a better rider overall with 79 mountain than 79 hill given his makeup. Ultimately it was about his fit on my team long term. I think the money investment makes sense if he's my lead puncheur long term, but it won't if he's my second or third climber. Similarly I didn't think the extra mountain stats would help much this year given my calendar and the abundance of climbers in PCT. But it was touch and go with the decision, and I recognize I might have made the wrong choice. We'll see the story the season tells.
RIP Exxon Duke, David Veilleux, Double Feature, and Monster Energy
Lovely work, thanks so much! Cool to see how much we've been able to outperform expectations last year. Given the high expectations now, this won't be repeatable, but meeting the expectations is a very nice goal to have as well.

I will push back a little on us losing almost nothing. Between Fiedler, Rosskopf, Perera and a few others, we lost something like 600-800 points. Madrazo will have to do very well to close that gap plus the 400 points we were off from promoting last year. But he hopefully can.

I'm looking forward to the individual team previews, and to the expert rankings. I also vote that "to kraftwerk" becomes an established part of ManGame vocabulary!
@bbl/cunego: Think i want to cover both of you with one reply: For me, this season's promotion fight feels a bit like last season's relegation fight. You look at individual teams and think about many teams "they probably are not going to really end there" but when you look at the entire picture, you have to predict someone to finish there.

This season, we had the special case of only having two teams relegating from PT. Without looking up about how many relegated teams are disbanding in average years, that's like two (or three) teams less that usually would be amongst the promotion contenders, add the reduction from 26 teams to 24 teams and suddenly those teams that feel like they should finish eight, nineth or tenth will slide right into the promotion spots.

I want to promote redordeads PCT prediction that shows the different tiers of teams according to his opinion quite well. His prediction had the 5th to 9th place almost indistinguishable and some of us had a very similar tier list with six or seven teams on a very similar level. And strictly talking my own expert prediction, i feel quite bad about whichever teams i put as 4th or 5th since they feel just as much as a 7th to 9th place finisher as the teams behind them.

That's not meant as a knock on those teams and not meant to say that promotion this season is worth less than in the past. It was very difficult to improve via FA and also teams looking weaker than they should to finish [insert a place] is probably a constant thing of the future when de-inflation measurements succeed and we are still stuck in our super inflation mindset where every season all divisions looked stronger than the previous year.

A Big Thank You To All MG Reporters!

knockout wrote:
I want to promote redordeads PCT prediction that shows the different tiers of teams according to his opinion quite well. His prediction had the 5th to 9th place almost indistinguishable and some of us had a very similar tier list with six or seven teams on a very similar level.

Wording it like that makes my prediction sound way more advanced, when it's actually very simple and lazy Pfft


"I am a cyclist, I may not be the best, but that is what I strive to be. I may never get there, but I will never quit trying." - Tadej Pogačar
Awesome to see this back, always a good read!

I agree that the division is way more open this season which I find exciting - it would be great to see a few ‘underdog’ teams sneak their way up into the promotion places. A lot will most likely depend entirely on luck though.

At the other end, it’s a hard year for teams coming up from PCT. I definitely don’t envy the ~7 managers that had to make a jump, but it appears a couple have made an excellent effort to keep themselves afloat and should probably even be above the relegation speculation.

I know we’ll be hanging around the bottom again this season, but am a lot more confident with the squad this season as well as my planning - as knockout said the TT training for Dunbar opens up so many different race planning avenues in comparison to MT training (this season at least, MT training with the stage racer armada this season would have been wrong). We’ve lost around 700 points this season, but Borges and Dunbar’s increased points make up for that alone along with actually having some form of depth now. Last year below Warchol/Dunbar and Jensen, the highest rider in MT and Hil was 76Mt (Arifin) and 75hil (Luch) so actually having some depth in these areas should keep us up for another season I hope Smile

Thanks again for the analysis, looking forward to the team previews.
Indosat - ANZ HQ

"This Schleck sandwich is going to cause serious indigestion for Evans" - Phil Liggett
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