For the sporting enthusiasts among us, the 2016 running of the ‘real life’ Tour de France is underway (July 2nd – 24th). Riders will be continuously jostling for position, whether it be contesting intermediate sprints, pushing their physical limit during steep, uphill climbs or throwing caution to the wind with absurd downhill descents.
In the latest Tour de France 2016 game, there’s a lot to think about. If you’re thinking of picking it up, or if you’re currently struggling with the contractual and physical demands of your sponsors and team, here’s some hints to (hopefully) get you to the Champs-Elysees and claim the Maillot Jaune.
Assess each stage layout with your Team Roster
Before a race even starts, you must think about your team’s strengths, weaknesses and how you can use the undulation of each stage to your advantage. Is the road ahead flat, hilly, or is it classified as a mountain stage? What about your team: Are all styles accounted for or are they a band of sprinters, punchers (best suited to hills) or climbers?
If you’re playing in Pro Team mode, this thought process is imperative if you want a nice cash boost to the team’s budget. Certain riders will also have a Stage Objective and this is another important thing when considering which riders will get stage priority – especially if you’re out of the running for any of the major classifications.
Decide early on which Jersey to pursue
Whether you’re about to start a three-stage race such as the Criterium International or looking to conquer the Tour itself, each team member must have a role. Digest each rider’s rating, specialisations and stats to decide which jumper is a realistic goal for your team. Unfortunately, in Pro Team, you’ll be given a progression goal to unlock the Tour de France – so you must have the Yellow Jersey in your sights.
Traditionally, sprinters and time trial experts are great choices for the Green Jersey; climbers are synonymous with the King of the Mountain/’Polkadot’ Jersey; riders under 25 years of age compete for the Best Young Rider Jersey; the most consistent team member – and the rider with the best overall race time – is worthy of the Yellow Jersey.
Again, don’t be over-ambitious. Choose which classifications suit your team best and assign a few riders as permanent back-up.
Use Team Comm to plan your strategy
Team Comm is a very good way to assign various activities to team members. I found it was always handy to be represented in all facets of a race, so I’d order at least one team member to follow any attacks from the peloton that might result in a breakaway group. If it was a flat stage, these riders would be sprinters, but if it was a hilly or mountain stage, they’d be climbers.
Having said that, it is very important to keep your highly skilled allies with you if there’s a rider in your team who is firmly placed in the overall standings. They are extremely helpful in maintaining solid positioning in the peloton and, with the aid of Team Comm, you can target specific teammates to protect a particular rider all the way to the finish. Furthermore, a secondary teammate in the breakaway group can maintain the time gap between himself and the peloton – solidifying your Yellow Jersey position.
Of course, the situation can be reversed. If your best rider in the General Classification manages to break away with an ally, you can order the leftover teammates to relay at the front of the peloton and control it at a pace that increases the time gap.
Know the location of the feeding stations
These are a bit tricky to time. They won’t be marked in the Stage map but your Team Director/the narrator will announce distances to various points of interest – including the feeding stations. Consuming a ‘feed’, with blue gel denoting the energy gauge and red gel meaning the attack gauge, briefly re-energises a rider.
Before approaching the ‘feed zone’, make sure to cycle through all your riders and order them to consume feeds according to their attack and energy gauges. It’s important to note that riders won’t carry two of the same feed type if they save one after the feeding station – it’ll just be reset to one.
In fact, it’s best to re-assess the two gauges of your teammates frequently – especially before steep climbs and important sprints. It goes a long way to increasing their reliability in aiding your best rider through a difficult section.
Don’t be scared to change riders
Remember: There isn’t a Career Mode in Tour de France 2016, so it’s best not to get swept up in sticking to one rider for an entire stage. Through Team Comm, select a particular rider and press Y/Triangle (if playing on the XB1/PS4 formats) which changes riders and jumps to another rider’s position.
If you’re ambitious enough to have riders contesting numerous classifications, then it’s best to assess them closely. For instance, you can switch between one cyclist you’re using for the Polkadot Jersey and, after each hill climb, you can swap back to your best rider.
It’s especially useful when you’re lucky enough to win a stage with one rider by a considerable margin. Just before you cross the line, you can set up the Change Rider mechanic and back-pedal to the remainder of your team in the peloton; this tactic helps consolidate your team’s positioning for the Yellow Jersey.
Slipstreaming is extremely useful
In certain instances, it can be better to follow than to lead. Thankfully, in Tour de France 2016, your riders are able to ‘Follow’ the cyclist in front and maintain the same pace; it’s a bit like turning on cruise-control. On the whole, it shields you from oncoming winds and helps save more energy than you might initially expect.
Slipstreaming is another useful tool when descending at high speed. I found going downhill manually in this game a bit clunky, so opting to Follow an opponent downhill saved me from braking, finding tighter angles as well as that awkward collision system. This mechanic is another great example of consolidating your position without having subdue your chosen cyclist to rigorous pace-setting.
If this list doesn’t get you the Maillot Jaune or, at the very least, a stage win, I’ll have to write another one of these – don’t make me write another one. Do you have any suggestions for your fellow virtual cyclists? Then drop a comment. Or, feel free to read Power Up Gaming’s Tour de France 2016 review. Otherwise, good luck and keep those wheels turning!