The Vuelta a España has arrived, which means it’s time for some of the world’s best riders to take on one of the world’s biggest races, while the rest of us sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. And also try our best to predict who will win.
That’s right, it’s time to dive into fantasy cycling! The Escape Collective Fantasy Competition is live – which means you can join in on the action. And you should, because it’s as fun as it is simple.
Here’s how it works. Every day, you pick a different very real rider to represent your very made up team in each of the stages of the race. That rider then scores points based on how he does on that stage. You can only pick a rider one time throughout the whole race, so once you’ve used up your sprinter pick on a sprint stage or your mountain goat pick on a climbing stage, that’s it, you can’t pick them anymore and you’ll have to find someone else!
Whoever scores the most points at the end of the tour wins. Simple as that!
Just because it’s simple to play, however, doesn’t mean it’s easy to win. Here are a few tips on how to excel in an Escape Collective Fantasy Competition.
Doing well in the Escape Collective Fantasy Competition starts with picking the right rider for the right stage. That means trying to predict how likely a rider is to finish highly on a given day, while keeping in mind that you can only pick that rider one time over the whole race.
It really just comes down to matching a rider’s skillset with a given stage. If it’s a pancake flat day that seems like a good one for the sprinters, you should probably pick a sprinter. If it’s a late time trial with a very tough climb? The GC favorites are sure to be in the mix. And even if you think someone will probably do well on a particular stage, if there’s another day where that rider will likely do better, consider using him there instead.
You have to pick your battles. You can only use a top rider once. They will probably finish in the top 10 on a boatload of stages, but only one of those times can benefit you, so be judicious.
In cycling, lulling your rivals into a false sense of security as you hold back for a powerful late attack can be pretty effective. It can work in the Escape Collective Fantasy Competition too – except here, it’s risky. Very risky. I’ll explain.
Crashes happen. Sprinters get time-cut in the mountains. There’s no guarantee that the would-be obvious favorite for this or that profile late in the race will even be there to contest in the end, so as you’re making your picks, be wary of saving a rider for an opportunity that’s just right. It may work out great, but it may also leave you in a frustrating situation if they do great on all the stages you didn’t pick them only to leave the race for one reason or another, leaving you high and dry.
In other words, consider using your stars earlier in the race than you might otherwise have wanted, to avoid missing out on the opportunity for points.
Respect the breakaway
When it comes to predicting stage results, there’s nothing like a breakaway day to dash your plans. Breakaway stages are far, far more difficult to predict than other stages. What’s more, you’ll often have several long-shot riders occupying all of the top spots on the leaderboard. That could leave your pick for the stage completely out of the running for points if they misses the move.
This is particularly important in the mountains. Frankly, mountain stages in the Grand Tours go to breakaways all the time. Even if a leader crushes their GC rivals in the mountains, they could still finish that day well behind the break, potentially leaving you with nothing to show for their success. In other words: Beware the breakaway days.
As such, be very aware of that threat when picking strong GC riders on stages with lots of up and down.
Check with the experts
If you’re playing the Escape Collective Fantasy Competition, it seems likely you’re probably familiar with the big names and what they’re good at, but it always helps to get multiple perspectives on a tough question like “who will win tomorrow’s stage?” That’s where the experts come in. We suggest you pay attention to at least two types of them.
For starters, there’s us! We’ll be previewing every stage the day before the action, and in those writeups, you can get our analysis on who we think will be in the mix for a given day. We’re not perfect, of course, but we’ll try our best to give you good analysis!
Then there’s the oddsmakers, who predict sports outcomes for a living. They set odds based on their own assessments and those assessments tend to be pretty darn good, considering how much money they make. If you want a decent idea of how a stage is expected to play out, see how the odds look.
Right then, hopefully that’s enough to get you started on the path to fantasy success. If you haven’t signed up yet, head to the App Store (iOS) Store (on iPhone) or the Play Store (Android) (on Android) and look for the Escape Collective app.
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