I look forward to July for a couple of reasons. One is the Tour. The second is the Tour de France tipping competition run by Miles Prosser, aptly named 'Le Tipping', run out of Canberra. Entry is free and there are no fancy prizes - unless you count the coveted Highlighter Jaune which is won by the winning tipster each year. I get a feeling Miles doesn't get much sleep in July, judging from the daily updates that land in my inbox at 8am each morning. Le Tipping is brilliant. To enter, you have to pick a team of 12 riders and meet a salary cap for the team that is counted in Boardmans (the official currency of Le Tipping, in honour of what Miles calls the most overrated cyclist in history - Brit Chris Boardman. As Miles puts it, even the most lowly-ranked tour rider is worth at least 7 Boardmans.) Each day Miles sends out an Excel spreadsheet that ranks all the tipsters and lets you compete against your mates for Le Tippin glory. Are you getting a feeling for how fun this caper is?
Miles kindly agreed to be interviewed by Ride Happy to spread the Le Tipping love. Bookmark his link for next year and enter Le Tipping if you're not already on board - I guarantee it'll make your TdF more fun.
Milesini [that's Miles' Le Tipping pseudonym], welcome to the Ride Happy couch. First, congratulations on another season of Le Tipping. Tell us about the competition - how did it start and how does it work? Like a lot of things, le tipping started as healthy competition between brothers. My brother and I enjoyed watching cycling and spiced up the viewing by pitting our knowledge against each other. We then roped in some work colleagues and friends. It's just grown from there. Each year we get most of the previous tipsters back and some more of their friends and friends' friends. It's become our own version of "six degrees of separation". How many tipsters have signed up this year? This year we have about 700 tipsters, from about twenty, ten years ago. We've tried to keep it pretty simple. You pick a team at the start of the Tour and sit back and watch how they go. We impose a salary cap to stop people picking all the best riders. That's turned out to be a great leveler between people with a range of cycling knowledge as well as an added challenge for those that think they know the cycling scene. On the feedback we get, the aspects that make the competition popular are that you only have to pick your riders once, you get daily updates and you can customize the competition to focus on your friends. As a Le Tour connoisseur, how do you see this year's tour panning out? First, I should confess that although I love the Tour, I'm not great at predicting the outcome. My tipping results over the years have proven that. I can't see Contador being beaten but of course there is so much going on at the Tour other than the race for the overall. I always enjoy seeing "the next great tour contender" appear, only to struggle in the following year with all the attention and expectation. If i could pick the next big thing I'd do much better at tipping than I do. The sprinting battle has been great in recent years and I think they often provide the most interesting personalities - like Cav recently and Super-Mario in the past. Unfortunately this year there is no Canberra representative so we don't have Mick Rogers or Matt Hayman to cheer on. What's your tip for winning the Highlighter Jaune? I spent all my Boardmans on Contador and I'm getting worried. You should be worried, I tried to price Contador so he wouldn't be a winning tip! The secret seems to be to pick those riders who were relative unknowns at the start of le Tour (and therefore cheap) but who are household names by the end. Given I've never been able to do it, I presume that is mostly luck!
You have a few celebrity tipsters amongst the le tipping ranks. Do pro cyclists fare any better than the average punter? One of the great things about cycling is how accessible the pro riders are - at races and while training. It's good of them to put their reputations on the line in le tipping and the short answer is no, they are no better than the rest of us. One of our tipsters is a statistician by profession and he has done some great analysis to show that cycling knowledge, cycling ability, and confidence are all irrelevant at best, and perhaps a liability at worse, in le tipping. At the start 0f the Tour the QuickStep team bus got raided by the anti-doping authorities. What's the inside word from le Tipping HQ? I reckon QuickStep has been throwing races all year just to lower their salaries in le Tipping. Maybe they were looking for some go-slow substances. I worry about the authority's ability to spot suspicious results if they are targeting the QuickStep team...
Do you have any amusing anecdotes to share from your years as a Le Tipping invigiliator? The ever-growing web of tipsters has created a few funny moments. My wife Dianna was at a serious work meeting last year when another attendee who she'd never met suddenly turned to her and said "Hey, are you Diinadych?" (her tipping name). It's surprising how often you run into someone who has been roped into le tipping. How can a Ride Happy reader get involved in le Tipping next year? Easy - you can tell them when the entry form comes out and they just have to send it in. Sooner or later it will all get too big for either me or Excel but we are a long way from that yet. The more tipsters the better and we customize the results so you can choose a subset of the tipsters for your own mini-competition. I'll make sure we get the notice out in plenty if time next year.
Thanks Milesini! For all those Ride Happy readers wanting to get involved in Le Tipping next year, perhaps put a comment below. If there are enough of you I'll make sure I send out the Le Tipping entry details next year!