Your guide to greatness in the 2021 Fantasy CyclingTips competition
When the riders pedal in Brest this weekend for the start of the Tour de France, they also mark the start of the 2021 CyclingTips Fantasy Competition Around France.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the option to choose one rider per day to lead your Fantasy team to glory, with the possibility of winning prizes if you manage to earn a Fantasy Leaderboard.
This time, we are changing the scoring system to improve the competition. The new system rewards you with points for picking a top 10 rider in each stage, and the points scale is the same at each stage. In other words, you will get as many points for choosing a sprint stage winner as you will for choosing a mountain top finish winner.
Meanwhile, if you miss your proverbial start-list dartboard throw on a breakaway day, you’ll be in the same boat as if you picked the 11th best runner-up in a sprint, instead of being five minutes seemingly insurmountable from the general classification.
To help you choose a winning team, we’ve put together a guide with an overview of the basics, along with more in-depth tips to help you achieve fantastic greatness.
Before going any further, register for the Fantasy Contest here.
Know the rules
Understanding the rules of any competition is important enough to be successful, so let’s start there. The CyclingTips Fantasy competition is pretty straightforward, but it can also be a bit different from other competitions you’ve been in.
Here’s how it works: You pick one runner per stage, and that runner can score points for your team based on their finish in the actual race, with a sliding scale of points awarded for any ranking in the top 10 (see below- below). Once you’ve picked a runner for a stage, you can’t pick them up later in the race, so be wise. It’s a long race with 21 stages, so you can’t choose Tadej Pogačar to win all the mountain stages!
At the end of the Round, the player with the most points wins the fantasy competition. It all feels pretty intuitive to us, which is why we love it. We hope you will do the same.
The scoring grid is as follows:
Selection of jumper 101
Once the rules are set, you might be wondering how to choose your rider for a given stage. Make sure to keep a few tools in your tipping toolbox.
First of all, taking a look at a stage profile is absolutely essential in making an accurate prediction for the day. If you are relatively new to exploring scene profiles, be aware that vertical gain is not represented on the same scale as distance. Otherwise, even Category 4 climbs would pose physically impossible challenges for the peloton, with 5% gradients more like 100% gradients in the race graphics.
As an example of using a profile (and our handy guide has them all in one place), take a look at stage 19 of the Tour. Being a relatively flat stage after a few tough days in the mountains, it looks like it’ll likely come down to a tuck kick, so you’ll probably want to name a sprinter in your roster if you want the best chance of winning the stage.
And if there was any doubt about it, there is another key tool in the fantastic toolkit you could use: betting odds. Bookmakers make a living being smart at predicting outcomes. If you are looking for information on which runners might be well suited for a certain stage, consult the experts.
Beyond the basics of selecting riders, you want to adapt your team to the rules. If you are unsure of a runner’s form before a stage, feel free to take a wait-and-see approach and possibly choose them later, because once you choose them just once, you won’t ‘will have the opportunity to count on him again later in the race.
At the same time, if someone seems to be stealing, be sure to take advantage of them when you can. It’s a bike race, after all, and accidents happen. You might not want to wait for a rider to follow this skill-perfect course two weeks after the start of the race if you know they are riding well and have a good chance on a stage right now.
To accumulate points in the competition, you will need to know the sport and the tactics of your selections. There is also a lot of luck. Accidents happen. The same goes for escapes, which are often extremely unpredictable.
Compared to how things have been in the past, the new rating system is likely to lessen the impact that these two things will have on your Fantastic Experience. Previously, you could lose several minutes if you chose a rider who fell or just got stuck in the peloton on a breakaway day. Now, these selections, hopefully, won’t put you out of the game altogether.
That said, breakaways will still be important, and big breakaways will earn tipsters a lot of points who have picked a rider on the road – while anyone who misses an opportunity will get nothing. On the other hand, you play whenever you choose a pure breakaway runner.
For starters, it’s hard to predict whether a leg will go to the break or to the peloton! And beyond that, even the stages that go all the way to the break can often see the big names getting very right behind the movement. If you pick an escape artist who lacks movement on a high mountain stage, you’ve missed some solid points by avoiding this selection of a yellow jersey contender.
Keep all of this in mind throughout the race and be strategic with your choices. If you know that you need big points to move forward and achieve your fantastic goals, you might find it worthwhile to take a few risks. If you’re sitting down well with a big point total and want to use up your proverbial mini-league time (more on this in a moment), maybe play a little more cautiously.
Join a mini-league
There will be some serious bragging rights and even prizes offered for the overall competition, but you might find it even more fun to join a mini-league with your friends to fight for fantasy supremacy within your own crew.
Creating a mini-league is easy, and from there you can invite your friends, and you can also enjoy some customization options. If you liked the old time-based system, you can change things up to run your mini-league that way.
Once you’ve sorted your mini-leagues, you can expect 21 stages of competing against your friends no matter how things turn out for you and your team in what is sure to be a very competitive overall standings.
Whatever you do, have fun with it. You may never have the opportunity to climb Mont Ventoux yourself, but you can Putting a fictional racing team in the hands of real racers who will take on real challenges over the next few weeks, and that must count for something.