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Articles Home » PCM 06: General Articles » The Career Guide
The Career Guide

If you're the one having trouble completing your sponsor's goals, this is what you need. This career guide guides you through every aspect of being a professional team manager - from selecting the manager points, to building the team - and to winning the Grand Tours.
The guide is originally written by "ciborium" on Cyanide's official forum, but we've been allowed to publish it here.

0. Manager Points

A quick note on manager points: when adding points in the initial screen defining your manager, it's important to understand that later points in any category are worth MORE than earlier points. To get from 9 to 10 takes more work in game than to get from 2 to 3 or 8 to 9. This means that you are better off adding more points to a single category than distributing your points across categories.

I recommended adding 6 to 8 points to the "Youth Development" category, as this will have immediate benefits to your team. "Finance" does not really come into play much early on, though you may want to re-sign riders in the January transfer window, in which case I would add 6 points to Youth Development and 2 points to Finance. The other two categories can be built up over the course of the first season.

1. Choosing riders and building your team

One of the first things you should do is SCOUT YOUR OWN TEAM (if you have a mythical or international scout). This will be a guide to who to keep and who to get rid of. If you are short of trainers, don't bother training weak riders or riders you know you will not rehire. These scouts are also useful for giving you information about young riders you've hired.

A good team -- capable of finishing 1st in the PT and overall rankings, of winning major tours and classics, etc., has the following kinds of riders:

    1. GC contenders, in their prime: 1 to 3.

    2. Future GC contenders, may win shorter stage races or support current contenders: 2 to 3.

    3. Hill specialists: 2 to 4. These will compete for the major classics and short hilly tours (Paris-Nice, Pays Vasco, Benelux, Poland, all the Jan-Feb tours).

    4. Cobblestone specialists: 0 to 2. There are very few of these races and they're concentrated in a short season so it's best if these guys can do something else.

    5. TT specialists: 0 to 2. Crucial because they can help you win a stage and meet a sponsor goal in a big race where you otherwise have no chance at a stage win. Also useful for the TTT Eindhoven race, and in stage races b/c they can do a lot of pulling if there are TTTs.

    6. Sprinters: 3 to 5. Sprinters tend to want to race a lot of races, so I have a mix of in their prime (79-83) and young (75-79) sprinters who I spead out among different races. Prime sprinters aim for green jerseys in the major tours.

    7. Support riders for hills, and future hill specialists: 4 to 6, ranging from 72 for support to 76-77 for future stars.

    8. Support riders for mountains: 4 to 5. The future GC contenders also function here.

You'll notice that the top numbers add up to 32 riders. I actually usually have 38 riders on my team, which is more than most computer teams, but it's because I hire young cheap riders to develop and use as support, which allows me to manage the fatigue of my other riders.

Let me also stress that this an ideal team. In one game it took me 4 years to build a team like this (starting with Credit Agricole), at which point I won the three major tours (with three different riders) and many other events -- this in normal difficulty though. On the other hand, starting with CSC, you have almost everything you need to make this team right away (except your best sprinter is O'Grady at 79, which makes life difficult--no green jerseys for you).

-- Scouts

I have at most two scouts. Only have scouts international or better; mythical if you can afford it (unless your team is very poor -- see below). In any case you will only be hiring 3-5 new young riders a year. For me at least it's worth the trouble to be able to trust my scout's reports, especially if he is evaluating my team.

But iFCee suggests the following: "Why use mythical (and expensive) scouts if you simply can use 3 regional scouts and let them seach out every area during the season? After the season you simply contact every rider your scouts have seen and then you can look them all and if they are crap just cancel negotiations."

This seems like a lot of of trouble, but obviously it would work. It is a better strategy for a very poor team, where you can use a regional scout just to be able to see riders, and then use the hiring process to look at their statistics and salary demands. When pursuing this strategy I often focus on riders who are sponsored by other teams, since my scout's advice is obviously useless.

You only need 2-3 new riders a year, maybe even fewer depending on how they develop and what your team looks like. You'll find a 70 sprinter quite easily, iFCee points out, but a 70 climber will be very hard, so make sure not to sign 10 sprinters.

-- Hiring young pros

Make your scout look in places rich in talent (4-5 stars). I only talk to riders who "must sign a contract in October," or are "future Tour winners" or "a treasure." Their salary demands will help clue you in to their potential: below 3000 is bad; 3100 and up I usually hire 2 a season; 3400 is a future Armstrong. (Added 8/24/06: These numbers are different for teams in Continental and may depend on a team's budget. In any case I recommend looking at lots of different young riders and hiring those with the highest salary demands.... Edited 9/26/06: Actually, I'm no longer sure how reliable salary demands are in relation to a rider's future potential. I am now following the recommendations of my mythical scouts, who are consistently able to identify riders with potential of 7 by declaring that they are "treasures" or whatever that phrase is.)

-- Hiring older riders

Search for riders at the end of their contract, but also look for young talents who you can buy from other teams. If a rider or a team says "not interested," just try again -- the process is random.

Choose riders who help build your team in the ways that I describe above. Look also at the season rankings in the Contintenal Tour -- the best riders there are often quite good.

For support riders look for riders with averages of 68-69 with 72plus in the talent you need (hills, mountains). The key to a good team is balance; otherwise you end up with too many superstars and everyone is unhappy and demanding.

In general, be very careful of hiring or keeping riders over 30 -- most riders will hit their age of decline at this point. Also be wary of keeping riders who no longer progress (training stops at 100) unless they have reasonable salary demands and can be good support riders. (For instance, Andry Grivko stops improving right before he can win a big Tour, but he is still worth having because he will win middle-range tours (Deutschland) and some one-day races and is a great support rider for top hill riders); likewise Ventoso stops improving at 79 Sprint, but that's good enough to win a number of races so he's worth having around if he's not too expensive).

Also, be sure to try to rehire your own riders in January rather than waiting for the post-TdF season.

-- Keeping your riders happy

This is crucial: they are easy to make unhappy and hard to make happy. Save your game each season before assigning roles (Jan 13) so that you can try again if you screw things up. Important to remember that riders will be unhappy if other riders have too high or too low a role. Start with your leaders (one absolute leader, up to 4 or 5 co-leaders if warranted), then move to your young talents (anyone under 25), then look at the other unhappy riders: luxury works for most, protected for one or two.

Keep them happy during the season by sticking to their programmes (make sure to sign up for races that they ask you for: I use a paper printout of the season and write all the riders' names next to the races so I don't screw up). Praising individual riders helps that rider a lot (as much as a whole leve); praising the team helps each rider on the team a little bit.

If a rider is unhappy, a leisure stage can help. Unfortunately the distance from "Depressed" to "Normal" can take 20 days to reverse, during which time the rider's training form drops dramatically. So try to solve the problem while the mood is Normal rather than when it's Depressed. For instance get the rider into a minor day race and do everything to make him win, then praise him.

Remember: Unhappy riders TRAIN POORLY and DO NOT WIN RACES.

-- Programmes

Unfortuantely, the reward for doing well is that more and more of your riders will have race programmes. This is very annoying. Among the things you should consider doing is editing the programmes, which you can do with one of the converters that's floating around (Mercury has it). I do this most seasons, especially when riders choose things that are bad for them (Sastre wants to race 3 6-day tours in Feb-Mar-Apr, then the TdF, then the Vuelta).

2. Before the race.

The keys to winning races are rider selection, training, and form. Decide before every race who your potential winner is and what your other goals are for the race. Then build a team that will allow you to win that race.

-- Rider selection --

-- Hilly classics and hilly/flat stage races require a rider with above 80 hills to have a good chance. Breakaways are very unilikely but you can sometimes win a short stage race with a breakaway on one day. Otherwise your GC contender in a hilly/flat stage race should build a lead in the hills days following the strategies below, and stay with the pack on flat days. Your team for these should include 2-3 (for classics) or 3-4 (for stage races) riders with high hill scores (72 or higher) to protect your contender for as long as possible.

-- All stage races with mountains require a strong mtn rider (80plus) with good time trial skills (75plus), and support for that rider, meaning 3-4 riders with 72plus mountain skill. Races with TTTs (the Giro; the TdF in alternating years) also require picking a team with decent TT skills since you can gain/lose minutes in those situations. The only way to tell in advance if a race will have a TTT is to check the email announcing the route, which shows up a month or so ahead of time.

-- Training --

The AI does a good job picking what to emphasize in a rider's training. But you may want to contradict it. For instance Basso has 83 mtn but 75 tt, meaning that he is vulnerable in TTs in stage races. I set his training to TT to bring that score up faster.

You need to think, therefore, of how training affects a rider over the course of a career. With an older rider focus on the most important skills right away b/c there is little time to improve. Young riders can build up general skills before specializing. A young hill rider like Gilbert can in time win the Tour de France (as he did for me in 2010) if you train him in stage race skills for 4 years.

Be sure to look in the manual to see which skils each type of training emphasizes.

Always train your best riders and youngest riders with your best trainers, and hire mythical trainers as soon as you can afford it. Also increase your "youth development" skill to increase the improvement rate. And make sure you keep your riders' moods good b/c that increases the rate at which they learn.

Also, for young riders: be sure to give them experience in low-level races so that their talents increase. I sign up for 2 or 3 tours a year that are just tours to give those riders experience. Remember: T.1 and C.1 races give riders experience at level 1, while HC races give riders experience at level 2. HC races are fairly rare so be sure to schedule some for your level 2 riders (the Tour of Langwaki is a good early one).

-- Form --

Form is made up of two components: training (up to 80) and racing (up to 20). Time spent at above 60 training increases fatigue, which over time reduces the max training score (to 60), and after 40 days of racing the max racing score drops (to 10). This means you have to carefully plan to win races.

For long stage races, you should start with about 70/80 and 7/20 for GC contenders (similar for support riders, but less important) -- their form will build to 95plus over the race. For green jersey contenders you may want to start higher to win the early flat stages.

Hill racers: Most of the important hilly classics are in April, so prepare your hill racers for that period (they can also win a few of the small tours, and even Paris-Nice, in that period). Also, two mid-major tours, ENECO and Poland, happen late in the season and have no mountain stages, so are winnable by hill specialists.

Cobblestone racers: The seaon goes from end of February to end of April.

NB: At 100 points training form increases by 1 point per day; training points increase during the race so don't forget to check your riders between stages.

It is possible to win the Giro and the TdF by having a rider race almost not at all (5-7 days) before the Giro. End Giro = 26-28 race days; 5 more days in June, and you start the TdF with 31-33 race days, finish with 52 or so. After that of course your season is more or less over, though since everyone else is tired you have a chance at the Deutschland Tour as well.

If you want to try for the Vuelta, make sure to keep a GC rider and a support rider in reserve over the course of the season (that means keeping them at 40 training for as long as possible before ramping up for the Vuelta).

3. During the race.

(A) In all cases protect the rider you would like to win with 2 or 3 riders. For mountain stages protect your best rider with 2 and your second best rider with 2; on the 2nd to last or last mountain, move the 2nd best rider (and whoever else is left) to protect the top rider.

(B) In all cases recognize your rider's relative skill level and form in relation to other races. If you are 2nd best, aim to finish 1st or 2nd; but if you are 4th or 5th best, try to finish 2nd or 3rd. Trying to finish 1st when you are not a real contender will usually result in your losing completely.

(C) In all races FORM is the most important feature of a rider's performance (after skills, of course). A 76 sprinter with above 90 form can beat an 83-84 sprinter with 60 form, easily.

(D) If you lose to breakaways, try putting someone in a breakaway next time. That will guarantee that the pack chases it down! Plus it gives you something to look at and hope for while the race is happening. A good rule of thumb for breakaways is that the peleton can make up 10kms in 1 minute, so if the breakaway is 9 minutes away and you only have 85 kms to go, time to start chasing.

(E) Use well-timed training camps (Hills or Cob in late March/early April; Mtn in late April; Mtn in mid-late June; Mtn in mid-August) to increase weak skills for both your GC contenders and their support riders. Leave one day before and after camps for rider travel.

(F) These tactics work for me in both Normal and Hard levels. But the difference is that in Hard I have to pay much more attention, making small changes in effort and tactics during the crucial moments of the race.

-- Sprints, (a) Set up your own train with two riders in front of your rider, one with high sprint (77plus), one with high flat (74 plus). 5-7km from the finish put the high flat in front, 99 effort, put the second one behind him; 2km from the finish have the 2nd one sprint, 1km from finish have the 3rd one (your best sprinter) sprint.

-- Sprints (b) Follow someone else's train. Crucial that you are not behind more than 1 very strong rider (stronger or equal to you). Set your rider to follow at 11.9km, and choose one of the favorites. But sometimes the favorites get caught too far back in a train (the 5th or 6th rider -- this is a problem for everyone except an 84-85 sprinter). Be ready to switch trains if you have to. If you are the 4th or 5th best sprinter, you can often finish second simply by following the best sprinter.

Be sure to eat at around 17km to go if your green bar is low. Be sure to set your sprint mode to aggressive.

-- Hills, classics: Classics with many short sharp hills are very hard to win. Stay near the front so that if the peloton breaks (which it often will in the last 1/3rd of a race) you will stick with the leaders. Don't be afraid to use the short relay button to keep up with the leaders.

Escapes work more often in these races than in others, especially escapes by strong riders with 30-60km to go. You can try to get into one of these escapes, but it's often difcicult to know which ones to go in because there are frequently 4-5 legitimate favorites, and escaping at the wrong moment will cost you the race as you will be caught. I have had some luck with escapes but I've also had luck staying with the peleton and attacking on the last or next-to-last hill.

-- Hills, stage races: Wait till the 2nd to last or last hill, and attack with 2-3km to go; or, if the hill is long enough, with 5-8km to climb set free effort to 95 or even 99 and simply ride away. Hilly stages in stage races tend to involve a lot of flat and then one or two final hills, making this strategy fairly easy to adopt; the peleton will chase down most breakaways. Strong hill riders (81 and up) should be able to win these one-third to one-half of the time.

-- Mountains: Make sure you protect your rider (see above). At some point on the 2nd-to-last or last mountain the favorites will attack. Do not follow them unless you have the green bar flashing, but even then, be careful -- in general do not attack on mountains because you will lose energy too quickly; you can lose 2 bars of red in an instant. This will cripple you later. Instead, 15-20kmkm from the top set free effort to a level that puts your heart rate somewhere between 166 and 173. As you climb, watch your red levels -- in a mountain-top finish you can afford to have your bar nearly fill up, whereas if there is a downhill (and especially if there is flat after the downhill) you should keep one or two red bars free for your final effort. Basically, you want to climb as quickly as you can without cracking and while saving energy for the finishing straight/downhill/sprint. You will catch most other riders, sometimes all of them, without attacking.

The AI has a tendency to have the leaders attack on the second-to-last climb. Knowing this, you need to consider whether you will follow that attack, pre-empt it by riding away under free effort, or catch the riders later by chasing them down. What you do should depend on your assessment of the relative strength of the field against which you're racing, and on your personal prefrences--all strategies can win. But if for example Cunego has been very strong letting him get away on the next-to-last climb means quite simply that you won't catch him. You're better off trying to get away slowly via free effort and making him work to catch you. On the other hand, if the other GC contenders have shown weakness then you should attack (either via the attack button or free effort) early -- I've even done so on the third-to-last climb -- in order to put them in difficulty.

Even if you are losing, do not put so much effort that you crack completely (fill up all 4 red bars). Save your effort for another day, for the TT, etc.

-- In both hills and mountains, if your heart rate is above 166 the effort you make chews up your blue bar before really starting to create red. That means that on a downhill before a final climb, if you have extra food you should eat it so that you will have more blue at the bottom, allowing you to climb faster.

-- Downhills. Attacking is the fastest way to go downhill but it risks increasing your heartrate above 166. Any slope below 2.5 percent allows you to do 99 percent effort with heartrate below 166. Make sure to use this knowledge if you get over a mountain first, but don't attack unless you're trying to catch someone.

-- Cobblestones. If you don't have above 77/78 in cobblestones, you won't finish with the first group, so don't feel bad. Protect your rider, use short relay to stay near the front during cobbled sections (the peleton WILL break). Feel free to try escapes with 20-30km to go, but in general the best you can hope for is to finish 2nd to Boonen. Note: many cobblestone races also feature hills, so hill camps before cobblestone season can help riders weak in that area (Cancellara for instance).

-- Time Trials. I don't even try when I have one rider in a TT, I just simulate. But if it's a big stage race and I have a leader, I use all the previous riders to figure out the optimal race style. In general I try to keep my riders at a single percentage effort (not a single heartbeat, but a percentage). This effort varies according to rider, of course, depending on TT skill and flat/mountain skill, but you can use your first eight riders to figure out the ideal strategy for your GC contender. (Added later: In hilly time trials, it's actually important to adjust your rider's effort, increasing it to 99 percent on downhills, for instance.)

-- Team Time Trials. I've had some luck with the following strategy: increase everyone's effort to 85-88. Put your best riders on 15-17 second relays, your worst on 5-second ones. If a rider's blue bar is lower than his green bar, feel free to cancel his relay -- you can win a TTT with most of the relays done by 5-6 riders, and the last few done by 3 riders. You will lose a rider or two this way but the team will do well. (Note: at effort 88 2 or more riders will not finish with the group, which may be fine if they have no GC hopes).

4. Winning jerseys

-- Leader's jersey requires a sprinter for purely flat races (Tour of Qatar), a hill rider (78plus) for hill/flat stage races (Pays Vasco, e.g.), and a very strong (80plus) mountain rider with good TT skills (75plus) for a long stage race. It's important to know before the race, if it has a TT, how long the TT is. In a short prologue-style TT even a fairly weak TT rider will lost very little time, making that skill less relevant to winning the whole race. But in a long TT you can lose quite a few minutes. NB: A stage race with even just ONE mountain stage (e.g. Paris-Nice in 2007) will be very hard to win without finishing high in that stage -- you cannot underestimate the time gap possibilities in the mountains.

-- Sprinter's jersey requires consistent effort. You can win the sprinter's jersey in the late stages of a long stage race if you work your form well, coming from behind to win several stages and catch up with the early leaders. To win the sprinter's jersey requires playing almost all flat stages b/c one bad day (out of the top 10) can cost you. (If you are dominating a tour, it's possible to have the same rider win a series of mountain-top finishes and thereby earn the green jersey, especially if the points in the early stages have been spread out among several riders.)

-- Mountain jersey requires committing one rider simply to this task (unless you will just win it with your GC leader, easy enough to do if you are strong enough b/c you will win mountain-top finishes consistently). After that, two choices: 2 or 3 times early breakaways to build up lots of points, then staying near the GC contenders in the really high mountain stages so as to not get passed by a Basso or Ulrich who wins 3-4 stages. Or, 4-5 breakaways and forget about finishing in the top 10 in the really hard mountain stages.

-- Winning breakaways (from Shimouma): Just like in real life, the peloton will usually let breaks go in stages after mountains. Save some of your riders in the mountains to get into the breaks.

Also, in breakaways watch when riders drink. If your guy is drinking last he's going to be the strongest and might be able to ride away from the break. He stands a good chance in the sprint too. If he's not drinking last the you need to lower your effort or give up on winning the break.

Finally, it's possible to win mountain stages with a good breakaway from a rider 10" or more down in the GC, if he has a high (78plus) mountain skill. Stay with your breakaway group till the second-to-last climb, then power away and hope you don't get caught.

5. Money

Make sure you have enough of it. Simple math will tell you if you do; don't forget to account for sponsor revenues and race winnings (a very good year on the Pro Tour can get you 2 million or so, but obviously you have to be careful not to gamble, b/c if your strongest rider is injured, you're broke).

A good strategy is to invest money in crucial things (trainers first, one or two extra riders, equipment) at the beginning of the year and then, in the hopes that your sponsor will increase your budget, take out a loan to cover the shortfall this creates at the end of the year, knowing that your budget will increase to cover it.

Don't underestimate the cost of trainers: a mythical trainer costs at least 350,000 a year, more than 1/3rd of the budget of the smallest teams in the game.

6. Equipment

I don't know how much difference it makes; I've read that it's only a few percentage points. But it's nice to have. In any case my first puchase is the Campagnolo wheel series (but not the TT wheel) -- the Hyperon and Bora Ultra are two of the most complete wheels in the game and can be used consistently at the highest levels. For helmets, the Catlike Kompact is the best free helmet, and the Kompact 2 is the best mountain helmet. The K2 is my second purchase (obviously buying the so-so TT helmet on the way).

Third purchase: The first series of frames. I use the next-to-last as my mountain frame and the last (the Orca) as my flat frame until I can afford the best mountain frame, which is in the second series, last frame.

Fourth purchase: TT gear. The Catlike Lobster is fine (the last TT helmets are all roughly equal). The Mavic IO Batons is the wheel I use, and along the way I purchase the other Mavic wheels just to get to it. If you can't afford that, second-best TT gear can include the 2nd Catlike helmet, the Mavic back wheel and a regular front wheel and frame. The TT frames are all roughly equal so I usually purchase the one from the first series.

Fifth purchase: The Limar series of helmets to get to the 950, which is the flat helmet I use.

If you will not have money for a long time, the Shimano wheels are decent second-best wheels that will work in quite a few situations and are relatively cheap.

-- For mountain stages, you want 4.40 in mountains; for flats you want 4.40 in flats, for time trials 4.40 in time-trial. For hills you can get 3.40 in both mountain and flat using the second series, last frame, bora ultra wheels, and the k2 helmet. I have seen suggestions that it is better to have a higher mtn than flat for hills, so give that a try if you feel like it.

7. Playing with a poor team

Strategy for playing with a poor team is very different than playing with a wealthy one. By "poor" I mean any team with a budget under 2 million. The Continental teams with large budgets are actually fairly easy to play, since your rider salary base is very low and you can go out immediately and hire riders who essentially guarantee your promotion to the Pro Tour, and equip them well.

For a poor team, the first thing you need to do is evaluate your financial situation. For many poor teams you actually do not have enough money at the beginning of the year to last through the year. For instance I played a game with HealthNet in which my monthly salary base was $100,000 and my annual budget was $1 million. I had to make up $200,000 just to break even! Same with Team LPR, base of $160,000, total budget 1.6 million.

Since the team's allotment of trainers/scouts is somewhat random, this can be especially difficult if you start a game and find that your team has two mythical trainers and a mythical doctor. The cost to you of hiring replacement international trainers (about $17,500) after firing the mythical ones you can't afford is actually a serious blow to your budget! I recommend restarting the game until you get a reasonable arrangment.

You will be lucky to get 2 or 3 weak sponsors; even $10,000 a month total is a serious help, so be sure to do this immediately. You will have to make up the rest of your financial gap with race victories and probably a loan in December.

Nonetheless, it is possible (perhaps even too easy) to get promoted to the Pro Tour with a small team in your first year. I have done so with HealthNet (normal difficulty) and LPR (difficult).

I have done so by retaining one mythical and two international trainers (or, with HealthNet, only two international ones) and purchasing the Campagnolo wheels, the K2 helmet, and the 2nd frame in the 2nd series (and using that equipment all year).

As for recruiting riders, TT riders are not terribly useful for CT teams, and you can more or less do without strong mountain riders as well (which is good because you likely won't have any). Focus on recruiting one or two mid-level sprinters (75plus is very good) and some decent hill riders (72plus) and you will be able to have a very strong CT team.

In terms of race strategy, you simply need to enter enough races -- because there is an enormous number of CT races, you can easily build up enough points to finish first by putting your sprinters in flat races and your hill riders in hilly ones. You need sprinters of 75 and a hill skill of 72 to consistently get top 15 finishes in CT races (you can also win with these skills; a hill of 76 and sprint of 79 will allow you to rack up astounding numbers of victories in the CT if you are in form).

The thing about CT races is that in some cases there will be PT riders there building up for their seasons and you have no chance (if Hushovd enters the Tour of Australia, or Boonen one of the smaller cobblestone races, focus on finishing anywhere close). But in other cases (some of the small Italian classics in midseasons, for example) there will only be CT riders. Since you will have a form/training advantage over the AI teams, you should be able in some instances to finish with 5 riders in the top 15 of such races, and win a few. These points will add up over the season.

Another way to build up CTT (Cya Top Tour, or "ex-UCI" rankings in the Spanish database I use -- the overall points ranking, not the Pro Tour or CT rankings) points is to go after the mountain classifications in small stage races -- can be done if you have a decent (70 or so) hill rider and spend the time. These are worth lots of points and sponsor happiness (and will bring you money).

Avoid getting wild cards for PT races unless your sponsor wants you to. These races are a waste of time and energy for you--your riders are simply not equipped to handle either the length of many of these races (200km plus really needs STA of 70plus) or the recuperation required by the longer tours.

-- Do you even want to get promoted?

The year-over-year increase in a team's budget seems limited to 20 percent. That means a very small increase for a small team, and a very long, unpleasant season in the PT, where your riders are unlikely to win any races and will be exhausted by the big tours. There also seems to be a problem (still as of patch 1.004) that does not allow many small teams to offer more than 18,000 a year to riders, no matter how large their budget gets -- this obviously makes building a very good team impossible.

What to do at the end of your first small-team season is essentially a role-playing decision. After a successful first year, you will find other jobs easy to get. Switching to a PT team that is relegated will give you a whole year in the CT to build up the team the way you like it (though you will not be able to resign your best riders), or choosing a lower-level PT team will give you a fresh set of challenges.

Staying with the small team means focusing on winning mountain points and the mountain jersey in small tours (no PT points for this though), and winning CT races to keep your sponsor happy (sponsor happiness depends heavily on the overall points ranking that combines PT And CT races, so you should try to save some riders for CT races to make sure your budget increases), and waiting for next year when you can hope for another 20 percent increase.

From a starting budget of 1.6 million, your budget will increase to 1.92 million in year 1, about 2.3 million in year 2, 2.76 million in year 3, 3.3 million in year 4, and almost 4 million in year 5, when you will finally have a budget roughly equivalent to what the lowest PT teams started with in 2006.

In my game with LPR, I was narrowly promoted in season 1, and came right back down after a very depressing season 2 in which I earned 49 PT points (yep, that's all. Communidad Valencia, which was promoted with me but has a much bigger budget, finished 10th in the PT rankings). Highlights of the season included an 11th place finish in the Vuelta, stage wins and the sprinter's jersey in the Poland Tour, and a 3-4 top 5 finishes in PT races (including a very nice 3rd in a Paris-Nice stage). But I ended up simulating many PT races because the riders are so weak you have almost nothing to do (especially in mountain stages).

In season 3, armed with a 2.5 million budget and some decent sponsors, I am back down in the CT, where I will easily finish first thanks to the team I have been building for two seasons now, which includes six 70plus hill and mountain riders and three 75plus sprinters (at the beginning of the year), as well as a 75mtn 80hill rider who exploded last year and will not, obviously, resign with me, but who I will use to win several of the small CT tours. I have hired a second mythical trainer and have a total monthly budget of 190,000, plus sponsorships of 16,000 and 12,000 (=340,000 a year) which I acquired while in the PT the previous year.

The following year, in season 4, with a budget of about 3 million, I should be able to stay in the PT, which will allow me to increase my budget again and start to recruit the very strong riders required to do well in the long run.

8. Winning the Grand Tours

Much of the advice below is pulled from a long post by kriles76 on page 3 of this thread. But let me begin with some general thoughts.

Riders racing in their home country get a slight (1 percent?) bonus. If you can, try to have your GC contenders be from the country of the GT.

The Vuelta is the easiest grand tour to win. You can do so by keeping two strong mountain riders (one 80plus, one 75plus) at 40 percent training for most of the season. In June, bump them to 60 percent and race the Dauphine or the Tour of Switzerland, then in mid-July bump them up to 80, and race the Deutschland Tour. Following the DT, increase training to 90 and do a mountain stage before the Vuelta, then try to reach 80/80 after the first 12-16 days of the race. The AI manages its rider fatigue poorly so your competition will already have done at least one other big tour (and sometimes even both!). It is possible to create 10-minute time gaps in the mountain stages. You can win this race with an 82plus mountain rider, even if he has only 65 in time trialing, as long as he's in top form. Depending on the course, saving a rider for the Vuelta is useful because it also allows you to have a good chance at the World Championships, which follow it immediately.

The Giro is harder than the Vuelta, but setting up a rider to race either Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adratico, Pays Vasco, and some of the fall classics followed by a mountain stage will put you in a good position to have 100 form during the race. Unfortunately it's very difficult to beat Cunego in this race for the first few years. Basso also tends to race this and the TdF though his preparation seems more focused on the TdF making him beatable in the Giro. Both Basso and Cunego are weak time-trialists, meaning that if you want to have a hope in the Giro you should have a GC contender with good TT skills to make up for time lost in the mountains. Incidentally, both Basso and Cunego can win the Giro with 70/80 training form [in hard difficulty], making it possible for them to win the Giro and make a play for the TdF as well (drop form to 0 on the last day of the Giro, wait till it goes down to 60, put form at 50, raise to 70 at start of June, 80 mid-June, 90-100 during the Tour).

The TdF is the toughest race to win and requires perfect preparation and a complete rider and team. In the TdF especially, a good recovery is crucial to be successful in late mountain stages and the final TT.

Here's the advice from kriles76 on race strategy in grand tours:

I now use (with benefit of training camps) 6/7 riders with 80+ ability in the hill/mountain stages on the Great Tours. Nobody can beat my steam train going up the mountain, all doing 75%-plus effort in relay, as it burns off all the rivals. Even if rivals try to attack, my train doesn't let them escape or catches them very quickly (still in relay) and they blow up and then can't keep up. I only counter-attack if its close to the end of the stage, then back in relay. Very often, the first 3 or 4 placings in most mountain stages are riders from my team and the same for GC and usually with 1 food left.

I usually try this on the first or second mountain of the stage (this usually depends on the stage length and food available and works best on the 200-220km stages (4 foodies) or 140-160km stages (3-foodies). Otherwise I wait until the third or second last mountain so I have enough food if its a sub-200km stage (3 foodies only) or a long mountain stage (220km+ and 4 foodies). It also works better if there is no flat at the bottom of the hill and it launches back into another climb - it prevents a chase group or the peleton from catching up with you.

The aim is to have an escape group of usually no more than 20-25 (usually containing the best GC hopes) with 6/7 guys from my team supporting one or two GC hopes and the main rivals have at best one teammate protecting them - usually they are on their own as the peleton is left minutes behind. Then put the team in relay on 99% as it goes down the mountain to hold or extend the lead. I then hold the relay between 65-75% effort to catch our breaths on the flat or bottom of the next hill/mountain. Bump up the effort of the relay if you see some stragglers falling off or main rival having a drink as they have to expand lots of energy to keep up. The important thing is too control the pace of the escape group. Go too slow and it invites break-aways on the flat, however you should catch them up the mountain - just don't give them 5 minutes. Be aggressive - not stupid. Don't keep the relay at 99% but low enough so that at least you're 5/6th best climber can keep up. If they can't and there are continued attacks from other teams - just drop them. The main aim is to drop the peleton and keep as many riders from your team in the best group thereby cutting your GC rivals off at the kneecaps.

This is good advice, but it highlights one problem with the game right now: it is a bit too easy to use camps to win tours. You can stack two camps on top of each other and end up with a completely overpowered team. I suppose the solution is to keep increasing the difficulty levels.

#1 | gardner on 27. March 2007 16:13
Excellent Guide
#2 | Nuilstrong on 24. October 2008 14:27
#3 | mattie524 on 13. August 2011 23:01
awesome guide CrueTrue!! awesome guide!!
#4 | Oggmeista on 09. August 2016 19:05
Nice guide and everything but I am still looking for an indepth guide on what all the telemetery bars mean......that is the red bar the green bar the yellow bar and the blue bar
In PCM 2016 2 questions that immidiately spring to mind are, how can you best conserve or regain the "green bar"? what actions use it up faster, is it possible to regain the blue bar?, why does the yellow bar sometimes use itsellf up over very short distances.?, is this because of a shortage of liquids?

Any more info on the telemetry bars would be well appreciated

#5 | Alethea on 12. January 2024 04:22
It may seem like it takes a lot of effort to build the ideal team, but the results are worth it. Besides, I want to introduce a time card calculator which is a free digital tool that will help your business grow.
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