How to pick the best Vuelta a España fantasy team
The Vuelta a España is fast approaching, with stage 1 set to get underway in Torrevieja on Saturday. That means the celebration of fictional sports that is fantasy cycling is gearing up for another big round too.
On the heels of our guide to thriving in your Tour de France fantasy game league, we’re back to offer a few tips on how to succeed in the fantasy Vuelta. Even better, the beloved Velogames.com is hosting a competition for the Spanish Grand Tour, albeit under a lawyer-friendly “Spain 2019” title. That means that fans who weren’t thrilled to play an ASO-built game for the Tour get to return to the familiar fantasy world of Velogames this August and September.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro when it comes to fantasy cycling or just getting started, hopefully there are some useful tidbits here to help you crush your friends in a three-week test of fake sports directing.
The idea here is to select a roster of riders who score points for you over the course of the race by achieving real-life results. Stage wins and jerseys worn by riders in real life correspond to points scored for fantasy teams that include those riders. Standings in the various final classifications are worth even more.
You can find the full scoring breakdown here (with references to the Giro d’Italia instead of the Vuelta, but that’s okay). It’s definitely worth a gander, because knowing that a stage win gives you 200 points or that the final red jersey is worth 500, in addition to the daily points for wearing it, will be key to your strategy.
You have a budget to start the race, and riders are assigned a cost, and it’s your job to spend your fake finances wisely to put together the best team. On top of that, the big-name riders are assigned a rider type (they’re pretty arbitrary but you just have to go with it). You pick two “all-rounders,” two “climbers,” one “sprinter,” three unclassified riders, and one wild card with any designation.
The general idea here is the same as it was for the official Tour de France fantasy game. The very, very big difference in the two comes in the form of transfers, or rather, the lack thereof for the Velogames Vuelta game.
The starting nine you lock in to kick off the race will be your nine-man roster all the way to Madrid. You won’t be able to sub in a rider having a Thibaut Pinot-esque performance in week two, or sub him out after he makes a Thibaut Pinot-esque exit in week three. In other words, pick riders who you can count on to score throughout the race.
Not having the ability to swap riders in and out can be a bit daunting, and it can sometimes just leave you with an unlucky team of DNFs that feels like it was hardly worth putting together.
On the other hand, the fantasy DS that puts together a squad that actually does shine through all three weeks is rewarded for their efforts, without having to worry that other players can just add the in-form guy halfway through the race.
Hopefully, the riders highlighted here can help guide you to three-week success …
Five Picks I Like
Alejandro Valverde is as much a star in fantasy cycling as he is in real cycling. His penchant for coming up big in the stage win department, while racking up points in the GC battle, makes him a high value choice at just 16 credits. By comparison, Steven Kruijswijk costs the same amount, and while he’s a great rider, he doesn’t have the same knack for collecting victories.
Staying on the Movistar train, Nairo Quintana sure looks cheap. He’s a former winner of the race, and he’s a great climber on a climber-friendly course. In years past he was a 20-credit kind of rider on Velogames, and even if he hasn’t shown that same talent recently, his 14-credit cost is low considering his potential.
Rigoberto Urán seems like a solid pickup at just 12 credits. He’s got a sneaky finish that makes him a threat to finish highly on stages, and he’s a consistent overall rider as well. Even if he finishes fifth and lands in the top three on a few stages, he’s an excellent complement to your highest-cost GC rider.
Jakob Fuglsang looks like another great 12-credit value. He was one of the top three favorites going into this year’s Tour de France. He is a strong climber on a strong team. He will be motivated to deliver a Grand Tour result after his Tour de France disappointment. Sign me up.
Edvald Boasson Hagen is a great fantasy cyclist because of his consistency in stage finishes. Even if the wins have been harder to come by for Boasson Hagen than many expected when he was a rising star, the Norwegian still tends to finish highly across numerous stages in Grand Tours. At 8 credits, that’s a solid contribution.
Three Questionable Picks
I see Primoz Roglic as one of the top two favorites to take the Vuelta overall victory this year, but 24 credits is a huge investment. Even if he wins the thing, you might be able to get more points if you can land a cheaper podium finisher and a spend the budget you’ve saved elsewhere.
At 12 credits, I’m wary of Fernando Gaviria. At his best, he’s one of the two or three fastest riders in the world, but we haven’t seen him at his best in quite a while. Plus, if he is feeling fit, he won’t have that many opportunities to shine at this Vuelta given the limited number of sprint stages and some competition in Sam Bennett. On top of that, it’s the Vuelta, so he’ll probably be a ways back in the points classification and won’t score many points there.
Also at 12 credits, Tao Geoghegan Hart seems pricey. Although he may have an extremely bright future ahead of him, I’d rather get his teammate Wout Poels at that cost, considering Geoghegan Hart is still probably looking for some experience in the Grand Tours at the moment.
If you can put together a team of consistent performers that also manages to stay healthy, you should be well on your way to Velogames success. And without any transfers, you don’t have to worry about spending time managing the squad over the next three weeks. Organize the strongest team you can put together before the race starts on Saturday and then sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Speaking of enjoying the ride, Velogames is most fun if you’re playing with your friends, so get your cycling group together, form a league, and go build a winning roster.