You can play fantastic games in the 2018 version of Pro Cycling Manager. For example, you can choose to ride just one-day races, such as a Classic like Paris-Roubaix. It really gets exciting if you decide to take the challenge in a three-week Grand Tour, however. If you are in career mode you get the option automatically, but you can also choose a Grand Tour as a separate challenge. We are now entering the digital battle for the general classification (GC) of the Vuelta a España with Team Sunweb.
Selecting a team
Of course, we start as any pro team starts: by selecting the best team. We did this even before Team Sunweb announced its line-up. For example, we chose Sam Oomen, who will skip the Vuelta this year in real life. We left Tom Dumoulin at home after two Grand Tours, so Wilco Kelderman was allowed to fill in the role of team leader. Next, we put Michael Matthews in the line up to compete in the sprints.
Before the race began, however, we realised some of our riders weren’t performing well. Usually competitors are at a fitness level of about 95 percent at the start, but Kelderman was performing at 80 percent. Suddenly we had no chance for a good classification. But with the hope of a growing form, we decided to take our chance.
The starting shot
In the time trial it went reasonably well for our team. With a place in the top 30, Kelderman was only half a minute behind the surprising winner Wout Poels. Sam Oomen also did well and was on course for the youth jersey.
During the first stage with an uphill finish, bad things happened immediately. Kelderman and Oomen did not have the power to sprint at the end and lost one minute. At that time it became clear that both men had to start heading in a different direction. Instead of participating every day in the rankings, we chose stages. And of course we hoped to try to score with Matthews in the sprints.
In the end, Kelderman and Oomen went on the attack several times and we had solid points for the mountain classification. But as soon as the finish came in sight, it became painfully obvious that it wasn’t going to happen for our team.
Fake or forerunner?
Our simulation of the Vuelta ultimately ended poorly. Matthews could not compete against the top sprinters and the captains simply fell short for the GC. We ended with a ten-minute lead in one stage, and Kelderman managed to finish the Vuelta twelfth, fifteen minutes behind Wout Poels (who dominated the race). Sam Oomen finished third in the mountain classification, which was a great result.
Another interesting point in the race was in the end there were huge differences in the rankings. For example, the second-placed rider already had six minutes of delay. All in all it was a very tough race, and hopefully a predictor of the real race.