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Old 07-04-2012, 05:43 PM   #1
Critch
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Herndon, VA
PCM2011 - Garmin-Barracuda Dynasty

Roundabout this time each year, for the last 5 or 6 years anyway, I get interested in cycling. Not actually getting on a bike and doing it myself because thatís too much like hard work, but watching it on TV. Itís Tour de France time, obviously.

Unlike the vaguely effeminate, funny-English speaking mainland Europeans, us folk from the UK have never paid much attention to professional cycling as a spectator sport as itís fairly boring. If we want to put the TV on for an all-day sports event where nothing ever happens, we have cricket. A few years ago though I started sharing an office with one of those aforementioned funny-speaking Europeans (a German) and we had a TV in the office, so I was introduced to the joy of having the Tour on as background noise for 5 hours before watching the last 40 seconds. Iíll watch any sport on TV, really.

Iím at the point now where I recognize most of the big name riders, know the result of most of the big races, and have Peter Sagan in my fantasy TDF team but Iím still only a vague follower. No claims of being knowledgeable.

Anyway, onto the point of a Dynasty thread: Professional Cycling Manager from Cyanide games. I bought it years ago and it really wasnít very good, but since then theyíve released a version every year and itís apparently a lot better than it used to be. Some years their release made it graphically prettier, some years the gameplay actually improved or added features that didnt quite work, some years it was really just a patch that you had to pay for (that all sounds familiar). Online reviews make it seem that starting with PCM2011, itís actually playable. This years version, imaginatively named PCM2012, has just been released but its $40 so eff-that. Iíve bought PCM2011 for half the price. Apparently the main improvements for 2012 are nicer graphics (which wont make a difference on my laptop) and a season planner (Iíll use a fan made standalone program instead) so really PCM2011 is good enough.

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Old 07-04-2012, 05:51 PM   #2
Critch
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Herndon, VA
I bought the game a week ago (after a slight hiccup where my credit cardís fraud group blocked my purchase because it was from a foreign website and out of character) and since then Iíve been in training. Iíve watched youtube videos, Iíve read how-to guides on the PCM website, I tried to play the Tour de France (it crashed after stage 9, not a good sign) and now Iím ready for the Career option. If Lance Armstrong was ever better prepared than I am, Iíd be surprised.

Iíve downloaded the PCM websiteís fan-made database, it apparently improves rider ratings and improves the race calendar from the default version that comes with the game. This database bumps the games start to January, 2012 and updates the schedule and stages to match RL 2012ís rather than 2011.

There are 18 UCI World Tour teams (the big name teams that get automatic invites to all the big races) and 65 Continental Tour teams (down on their luck big teams and smaller teams that have to apply to races). Thereís some form of annual promotion and relegation between the levels, but I donít know what it is. And as Iíll be starting as a World Tour team, I hopefully wonít have to find out.

The Team

As I mentioned, interest in pro cycling in the UK has always been limited, but thatís changing now due to a competitive British team, Sky Procycling, and two top riders in Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. Unfortunately Iíve always found Mark Cavendish to be a dick and Sky is Rupert Murdoch owned, so they will not be my team of choice.

Instead Iíll be going for US-based team Garmin-Barracuda. They have a number of the North Americaís top riders (Tyler Farrar, Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Ryder Hesjedal), a few other competitive riders (Johan Vansummeren, Heinrich Haussler), a group of good young riders (Jakob Rathe, Nathan Haas, Andrew Talansky, Sep Vanmarke) and, most importantly, a Scottish guy (David Millar). Theyíre a UCI World Tour team so theyíll get an invite to all the top races, and should be vaguely competitive in even the top races, unless I mess up.

Goals for the Season

The game provides a list of Sponsorís demands, results theyíd like to see for the season. From the forums it seems theyíre always wildly ambitious (for example, the target for sponsors to be happy with the Tour de France is ďwin itĒ) so Iíll only be vaguely following their goals and will mainly be aiming for my own goals:

1. Be competitive in the three Grand Tours (Giro díItalia, Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana) Ė pretty self explanatory really.
2. Target the North American based races (Tour of California, USA Pro Cycling Challenge, GP of Quebec and GP of Montreal) Ė weíre a US based team, so go after the home races. This matches with the sponsors targets.
3. Target the Northern Classics Ė a group of one day Spring races in Belgium, France and the Netherlands over cobblestoned and/or hilly courses. Good money in winning those, if you can beat Tom Boonen, who is apparently fairly great in PCM2011.

Other than those, Garmin-Barracuda will send a team to all the World Tour events to hopefully win enough points that I donít have to learn the relegation rules. Outside of the goals and the UTI World Tour races, other races will only be entered to get the team fit. Each rider can race about 60 days a season, but donít reach full fitness until day 16 onwards, so thereíll be a few early season warm up races.
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Old 07-04-2012, 05:54 PM   #3
Critch
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Herndon, VA
Garmin-Barracuda Setup

The season (January to October) is too long for a rider to be at his peak fitness for the whole season, theyíll only be able to be racing fit for about 5 out of the 10 months, normally peaking for about 2.5 months at a time. So the team will be split into groups and put into different training schedules to try and align these peaks with the races theyíre scheduled for.

Garmin-Barracuda have 30 riders, ranging from Team Leaders (whoíll compete for wins), Specialists (Sprinters, Climbers, Northern Classics), down to Domestiques (whoíll protect the leaders and specialists and keep them out of trouble and stocked with fresh water bottles). The team will be split up into 6 groups for the season:

Group 1 (Farrar (Leader), Vande Velde, Zabriskie, Talansky) Ė Theyíll be preparing for the Tour de France and the North American races (since theyíre all Americans).

Group 2 (Hesjedal (Leader), Fernandez, Haussler, Miller) Ė Giro díItalia and the Tour de France

Group 3 (Danielson (Leader), Le Mevel, Martin, Wegmann) Ė Giro díItalia and Vuelta a Espana

Group 4 (Vansummeren (Leader), Maaskant, Vanmarcke, Klier) Ė A selection of Northern Europeans who can handle cobblestone surfaces and will aim at the Northern Classics.

Group 5 and 6 Ė The remaining 14 riders split into two groups of domestiques/young riders whoíll be trained so that half of them are race fit at any point of the season. Four of them will fill out the Vuelta a Espana team too.

Iím not sure if Group 2 and Group 3 being scheduled for 2 Grand Tours will work, but thereís only one way to find out. It may be too much for them in the game.

Iíve used a fan-created piece of software (PCM Season Planner) to schedule who rides in which race and set up their training schedules. Of course itíll all go to pot when thereís an injury, but itís a nice thought.

And now onto the actual races. Iíll be ďdetailed simmingĒ all the uninteresting races, and Iíll play out the full race in 3D for the interesting/important races. Because of that, I donít think thisíll be a fast moving dynasty. The 21 stages of a Grand Tours will take a couple of nights on their own. One houserule Iíll be using is no Training Camps, other than a quick fitness camp in January to kickstart the teamís fitness levels. Apparently Training Camps give slight boosts, but the AI teams donít use them, so getting an unfair hidden boost would be unfair and would never happen in real cycling.

Garmin will be involved in most of the seasonís important races, through the dynasty Iíll only be mentioning races involving Garmin, probably. The gameís season is a lot fuller than the events Iíll mention in my recap.
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Old 07-04-2012, 05:57 PM   #4
Critch
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Herndon, VA
January 2012

January is all about the Southern Hemisphere, so for a Northern Hemisphere team there’s not a lot of action. None of the Garmin top riders are involved, so most of the stages were simmed, a couple played for practice with not very impressive results.

The first two events involving Garmin riders are the Australian Championship and the Australian Individual Time Trials Championship. Heinrich Haussler and Nathan Haas are there for Garmin and other than 23 year old Haas getting a creditable 4th in the main race, there’s nothing much of note. There’s another Garmin Australian (Jack Bauer), but he skips the races. Not sure why, but he wouldn’t have won anyway.

1/19 to 1/24 - UCI World Tour – Santos Tour Down Under
Another race in Australia, this time a 6 stage World Tour event. Despite there being World Tour ranking points at stake, the race is too early to train anybody important for so the Garmin team is all domestiques trying to build up fitness. Not worth messing up one of the main guys schedules for a January race.

South African Robert Hunter challenges for the first few stages until he comes up against a stage with a couple of minor climbs and loses so much time he falls completely out of contention. The last two stages the only challenger Garmin have is Nathan Haas (riders get a bonus for racing in their homeland) for the Young Rider win, but that falls away in the last stage and he finishes a distant second.

So the final analysis of the Tour Down Under for Garmin is nothing risked, and a few World Tour points gained. So not too bad a start. The only other point of note for Garmin is that Australian Jack Bauer bothered turning up, that was about his highpoint.

Sky take the Overall title (Richie Porte), the Points Title (Mark Cavendish) and the Team event too.
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Old 07-04-2012, 06:03 PM   #5
Critch
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Herndon, VA
February 2012

February starts slowly, no World Tour points on offer for the whole month, but the end of the month sees Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the first Classic of the year and the start of the Belgian season.

The race is the start of the Northern Classics races that the Garmin group 4 are being trained for, so to get them some racetime Vansummeren, Maaskant, Vanmarcke, Klier and 4 fillers head off to the Tour of Oman. Surprisingly enough a team training for the cobblestones and hills of Northern Europe made no impression at all in flat sandy Oman and all that can really be said is that they raced for 6 days and didnít get injured. Nobody broke the top 20 standings. No World Tour points and not much money on offer, so no great loss and on to Belgium.

2/26 - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (199.6km)
The first Classic, the first race that the Garmin sponsors had targeted (they want a win), and the first real race for one of Garminís top group of riders, so this is the real start of the season. Johan Vansummeren (Belgium), Martijn Maaskant (Netherlands), Sep Vanmarcke (Belgium) and Andreas Klier (Germany) return from hot, dry Oman to Ghent in Northern Belgium where itís near freezing and raining. Not sure Oman was the best preparation. The Garmin team is padded out with 4 domestiques.

The plan for the race is to get to the front of the peloton and sit there. Thereís a chance the peloton will split on the cobblestones, so front is the place to be if possible. These races are the ones that are most likely to be won by a breakaway, so if a breakaway goes one of the Garmin main riders will go with them.

Twenty kilometers in the first sustained break goes and Andreas Klier goes with them. The breakaway fizzles out pretty quickly, but Klier keeps forcing the pace and by 50km heís 3 minutes clear on his own. The rest of the Garmin team is following plans, sitting on front of the peloton and trying to slow down the Klier chase. At the halfway point Klier is still over 3 minutes ahead but heís used more than half his energy to get to half point of the race. I have to slow him down to conserve energy, but itís pretty quickly apparent that heís going to be caught before the finish line, so the rest of the team give up on their attempts to slow the peloton to avoid being caught out. 60km to go Klier is finally caught and the peloton is all back together.

The Garmin leader, Johan Vansummeren, isnt much of a sprinter so weíre going to have to split the field to give him a chance, so Maaskant and Vanmarcke step up the pace with Vansummeren following with about 30km to go. A small group follow but none of the big names, so when his protectors slow, Vansummeren makes a break on his own. I thought it was too early but at 20km heís 2mins free, right on the ď1 min lead for every 10km to goĒ rule for winning breakaways. 10km to go itís still 1min 45 and the race seems just about in the bag. Vansummeren finally rolls over the line 35 seconds clear of Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen for Garminís first win of the season. And the first time Iíve ever won any race or stage, so that was nice and unexpected.

And that brings us to the beginning or March, and the point where Iíd played to before starting to write.
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:59 PM   #6
britrock88
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: ND via NC
This looks like fun. And in a few posts, I'm already learning about the sport, too, so kudos.
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Old 07-05-2012, 12:05 PM   #7
sidewinder66
n00b
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Nice start. I love watching the tour on TV and have actually played this game (an earlier version, though) a few times. Never made it through and entire season. Good luck to you (but stop beating Cancellara, please)
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Old 07-06-2012, 09:54 PM   #8
Critch
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Herndon, VA
Thanks for the positive posts.

Also, I dont think Cancellara has anything to worry about from Garmin, that one win was a flash in the pan...
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:00 PM   #9
Critch
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Herndon, VA
March 2012 (First Half)

March is the month where Garmin’s season starts to get busy with three stage races and three one day races, all of them UCI World Tour Events. After one World Tour Event (The Tour Down Under in January) Garmin are in 5th place thanks to Nathan Haas finishing 6th in the classifications and a few points from Robbie Hunter. Garmin may have sent an underpowered team, but actually sending a team at all was more than most of the World Tour teams.

Early March sees two World Tour Stage races that Garmin will be sending a team to: Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico . The scheduling for these two races overlap by a few days, so there will obviously enough be completely different Garmin teams at each event, the Classics team will be at Paris-Nice while Group 3 (Danielson (Leader), Le Mevel, Martin, Wegmann) will make their season debut at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Paris-Nice (8 stages from 3/6 to 3/13)

Generally used as a warm-up for the Tour de France, there’ll be a strong field for this race. Garmin are treating it differently, it doesn’t fit in with our team schedules for the Tour de France with half of that team going to Giro d’Italia in May and the other half being saved for late season North American races. Instead the Northern Classics team will use it to get race days in before the one day races at the end of March. As mentioned above, riders hit full fitness after 15 days racing, so 8 stages here will get them to 15 in time for their real targets.

Unfortunately Vansummeren, Maaskant, Vanmarcke and Klier aren’t really a good fit for the hilly/mountainous stages and I don’t have much in the way of climbers to pad out the team from the pool. Robbie Hunter is added as the team’s sprinter, he may pick up some points, but it’s a pretty weak stage race team and it won’t meet the sponsor’s demands for the race, they want a win obviously.

The race starts in the town of Houdan, west of Paris with a fairly flat stage. It all goes well for Garmin, the team stays at the front of the peloton, the sprint train leads out well, and Robbie Hunter is sprung to sprint to the line inside the last mile. He hits the front and I have time to think “two wins in a row, is this game too easy for my awesomeness?” before Mark Cavendish and 5 others zoom past in the last 100 yards to push Hunter down to 7th. Stage 2 is much the same, except Garmin miss the sprint and don’t challenge. Hunter in 22nd with the same time as the leaders, Cavendish winning the sprint again.

Stage 3 is the start of the hills, but most of the peloton (and all of the Garmin team) come home with the same time. There’s a one-man charge with a few miles to go though and Ben Hermans (Radioshack-Nissan) wins by 45 seconds. Stage 4 is the first proper breakaway win and Sandy Casar (FDJ) wins by nearly 4 minutes. Somehow he managed to lose 5 minutes on totally flat stage 1, so it’s not enough to move him to the top of the classification though. Mark Cavendish (Sky) still leads. I mess up in stage 4 by sending a domestique back to get water too close to a climb. He gets the water but doesn’t catch up to distribute it to his teammates before the climb so my team goes up the climb without water and suffers. Not as much as the domestique who uses up all his energy trying to charge up the hill to catch up and finishes 22 minutes out.

Stage 5 is the hilliest of hilly stages, and it kicks the ass of all those sprinter types, Vansummeren sticks with the lead group and moves up to 6th in the overall classification. Cavendish cant stick on the hills and loses 8 minutes, so we have a new leader, Roman Kreuziger (Astana). Stage 6 is an Individual Time Trial, not Johan Vansummeren’s forte, so he’s back to 15th in the Classifications 2’47’’ behind Kreuziger who retains first. Stage 7 is mountains, 8 is hilly around Nice (complete with some ok Mediterranean scenery, yachts and sea and stuff PCM has improved on making stages look varied). Both end similarly with Kreuziger latching onto any attack from a rival and not allowing them to eat into his lead. Pretty much what would happen in real life, and it works as he wins Stage 7, then finishes second to Valverde in the final stage to seal the win. I went all-or-nothing with Vansummeren on Stage 8, made an early break that didn’t work and in the end lost him time. So 21st (and out of the World Tour points, I think) to end the event.

Paris-Nice is a fairly well known and important race, so I’ve written more than I will for others. For example:

Tirreno-Adriatico (7 stages from 3/9 to 3/15)

A race across Italy. West to East in 7 stages (North to South would take a lot longer).

I noticed the first and last stages are Time Trials, so along with Danielson, Le Mevel, Martin and Wegmann I draft in the best 4 Time Trialers from the pool. Unfortunately what I didn’t notice was that stage 1 is a Team Time Trial, they all work together to get a team time. I’d never tried one of these stages before, messed it up, and despite having one of the fancied TT teams Garmin finished dead last and were already 2 minutes plus behind the leaders.

With no real chance of winning, I just “Detailed sim” the rest of the race and Garmin achieves nothing of note. Tom Danielson in 32nd, nobody else in the top 50. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) wins ahead of Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan).


So now it’s March 16th. At the start of the month Garmin were in 5th place in the World Tour after gaining 45 points in one event. They added exactly 0 points in the two events so far this month and surprisingly have dropped down the rankings. Maybe I do need to find the relegation rules after all.

Last edited by Critch : 07-07-2012 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 07-07-2012, 02:36 PM   #10
Critch
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Herndon, VA
March 2012 (Second Half)

Three one day Classics and a Stage race make up the second half of March, and a chance to win World Tour points in all of them. Iíve looked up the rules in wiki (wiki knows everything) and it turns out the teamís points are a total of the teamís top 5 point scorers. Since Garmin only have 2 point scorers (Nathan Haas (40 points) and Robbie Hunter (5 points) thereís plenty of room to grow.

Milano-Sanremo (299km, March 19th)

La classica di Primavera Ė The Spring Classic (thanks wiki!) is first up. Itís not a Northern Classic, but itís a Classic so this one is for Johan Vansummeren, Martijn Maaskant, Sep Vanmarcke and Andreas Klier. Nathan Haas joins the team, but thatís the last youíll hear of him as he makes not impression at all.

I try to go for much the same tactic as the previous Classic win, sit on the front of the peloton and make a break near the end, thereís a small hill about 30km from the end, the plan is for Vansummeren to make the charge from there.

Unfortunately this doesnít play out like the earlier race, sitting on front means constant attacks to chase down plus the race is 100km further so when the team reach the hill that was supposed to be where the attack started they were already dead. Not literally, but energy wise. So they all cycle in slowly well off the pace. Vansummeren is the first Garmin finisher in 89th position. Fabian Cancellara wins, beating Philippe Gilbert (BMC) in a sprint for the line.

This was one of the sponsorís targeted race and they had a comparatively achievable goal of a top 10 finish, so obviously the sponsors are less than impressed.

So itís zero World Tour Points again.

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (7 stages, March 21st to March 27th)

And off to Spain for the Tour of Catalonia. Itís going to be a race that needs climbers, most of the stages are pretty bumpy, especially stage 3 which seems to be up the side of a mountain.

This will be Group 3 again (Danielson, Le Mevel and Martin) but with a slight change. Koldo Fernandez comes in from Group 2 in place of Wegmann to get our one Spanish rider into a Spanish race. The riders from the domestiques/young riders pool are pretty much the best climbing selection, so quietly confident of some much needed points. Especially since it doesnít seem to have the strongest field either.

Stage 1 goes to plan, nothing exciting, just stick with the pelotonís front group and watch other riders drop off and lose time. At the end the lead peleton is whittled down to only 36 and 5 of them are Garmin, so not bad. Stage 2 isnt bad either, for a while it looks like the Garmin train has got Fernandez into position for a sprint to the line, but heís lacking fitness and cant go. After 2 Stages Tom Danielson is in 5th, Michel Kreder in 9th (and 2nd for young riders) and Thomas Dekker in 14th.

Stage 3 is uphill all way, but not as steep as I thought. Still, the climb to the finish line destroys the peloton and much time is lost by many. The top Garmin guys are not really affected, they lose a bit of time, but not as much as most. Stage 4 is a mirror image of stage 3, downhill all the way. Again Garmin sit in the peloton and donít gain or lose time. Stage 5 sees Garmin suffer for not having a fit sprinter, the train works well but Fernandez drops of the end of it so thereís no punch to the line.

Stage 6 is a strange one. Garmin stick with the pack but when a breakaway goes 60km from the finish line I send Thomas Dekker with them. 40km out itís a 10 man group and they have a 2min advantage. Dekker is strong, but he isnt a sprinter so he makes his break with 20km to go, stretches the breakaway and breaks free to win the stage by 43 seconds. Heís too far back for the time to make much difference, but the stage win is prize money and 6 World Tour points so itís nice.

Stage 7 and 8 are unremarkable, except stage 8 involves a couple of laps of Barcelona and PCM has some custom graphics so thatís nice. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) has had the lead since stage 3 and he wraps it up with no problems. Tom Danielson drops out the points, so the 6 from Dekkerís win are all Garmin pickup.

E3 Harelbeke and GentĖWevelgem (03/26 and 03/27)

The end of the month sees the Northern Classics team back to Flanders for two one day Flanders Classics races, both with World Tour points available.

Both end is predictable disappointment for Garmin. At E3 Harelbeke Vansummeren is in the final group of leaders, but with no sprint finish he finishes back of the bunch in 12th. Gent-Wevelgem Vansummeren, Klier and Maaskant are in the group of leaders with 40km to go but Vansummeren falls and when he finally gets back on his bike heís way out of the competition. Maaskant is Garminís best finisher in 14th.

Both races end with the same 1-2-3. Thor Hushovd (BMC), Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) and Tom Boonen(Quick-Step) in that order.

BMC are the other US based team that I should have chosen instead of Garmin. Yes, Iím blaming the team, not myself.
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