Posted by Editoress on 12/9/20
Matteo Dal-Cin was the top Canadian finisher at the inaugural Esports World Championships, held on December 9th at remote locations around the world. Georgia Simmerling was the top Canadian woman, in 18th place. Held on the Zwift online platform, riders rode identical smart trainers, with both women and men riding the same 50.035 kilometre reverse figure-8 circuit in the virtual world of Watopia. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa) and Jason Osborne (Germany) won the women's and men's titles, respectively.
The circuit featured a number of short, steep climbs, with riders able to 'power up' at different points to offer boosts of increased virtual aerodynamics and reduced virtual weight; meaning reduced effort. Team mates could also provide draft support to reduce effort.
The women's race had 54 riders from 18 nations, with three entries from Canada - Simmerling, Olivia Baril and Angela Naeth. Among the riders were multiple world and Olympic champions from the real cycling world - Dutchwomen Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten and Kirsten Wild; Great Britain's Sarah Storey and Elinor Barker; and Denmark's Annika Langvad.
Attrition took the numbers down in the first half of the race and the U.S. - with the most entries - pushed the pace in the second half. However, it wasn't until the final three kilometres when the pace really heated up. Moolman - Pasio attacked on the final steep climb in the last kilometre, followed only by Australia's Sarah Gigante. The South African managed to hold off the Australian to take the title on her 35th birthday. Sweden's Cecilia Hansen took third.
In addition to Simmerling's 18th, Baril was 23rd and Naeth was 35th.
We spoke with national track team rider Georgia Simmerling from Vancouver after her race:
CC: Your overall impressions after doing the biggest Zwift race in the world?
GC: It was a super exciting event; to be honest, it didn't play too well to my strengths due to the climbing that was involved, although the climbs were pretty short and sharp and steep. That kind of helped my style and energy system as a track athlete. The peloton moved fairly slowly throughout the whole race, so I was able to recover after the climbs, which was key to staying with the main group. So it came down to that last climb and who was going to be at the top at the end of the race. A lot came down to how and when you hit your power ups; that last climb got very, very hard, and I did the best I could and ended up top-20.
CC: The power ups are a video game thing - how critical were those aero and weight reduction elements?
GC: I don't believe that in the women's race they were extremely important until the end, when it mattered most. Throughout the whole 50k it really came down to the finish. For me, I was able to conserve my power ups and use them at the top of the climbs to stay with the front group and conserve some energy. Heading into the last couple of kilometres and heading into the final hill, Olivia [Baril] was able to hit her fender power up and drafted me a little bit to the last couple of hundred metres, when I was able to give it my final push. It was cool to work as a team, and that was through discussion.
CC: You're more of a track rider then a road racer, but how does this compare to road racing?
GC: I think that's the myth that people have with Zwift; it really doesn't compare in my mind. I think it's an entirely different game and an entirely different sport, if you will. If you get your head around that and focus on learning the video game aspect of Zwift, you will find a lot more success. I think the whole world and the women's peloton is learning that. I'm learning every time I am on the game, and that's one of the unique factors about Zwift; that it's not a road race.
The 78 rider men's race also had a number of top riders on the start list, including France's Jordan Sarrou; Belgium's Eli Iserbyt and Victor Campenaerts; Great Britain's Ed Clancy and Tom Pidcock; and Canadian triathlete and Hour Record holder Lionel Sanders. In addition to Dal-Cin and Sanders, the Canadian team included Pier-André Côté, Jordan Cheyne and Charles-Étienne Chrétien.
Similar to the women's race, the field was initially whittled down by attrition, with the Canadian men particularly aggressive. Cheyne, Sanders and Côté took multiple turns at the front stretching things out, while Dal-Cin - a stage winner in the virtual Tour de France earlier in the year - sat in.
Once again, it came down to the final climb; Campenaerts started the action, but then Osborne - a rower with the German national team - exploded to the front, using power ups on the steepest section and an aero boost on the final 250 metres of flat to win. The German pumped out an incredible 12 watts/kilogram on the steepest section.
Dal-Cin moved into second with 750 metres to go, and was still holding the silver medal spot until the final 200 metres or so when he was swarmed. Côté finished 19th, Sanders 30th, Cheyne 41st and Chrétien 48th.
We spoke to Matteo - who rides for the Rally Pro Continental team - from Ottawa:
CC: First Esports Worlds - your impressions?
MDC: It was fast and furious, as you'd expect in a 50k Zwift race. It was tough; all the climbs were even more selective than normal with guys pushing the pace. But in terms of team tactics and how we raced as Team Canada, it couldn't have gone much smoother, I think. We executed the plan from the outset, so I'm super stoked.
CC: Tactics aren't what they would have been in a regular road race, so what were they?
MDC: There isn't an early breakaway, like you would normally see [in a road race]. The benefit of drafting is even more so then in real life, so we were trying to avoid missing any big splits, where you would then have to be on the back foot chasing. There were a few a points where we attempted to animate the race and maybe instigate a break. Everybody knew what they were doing and stayed on top of things, so nothing ended up sticking, but we tried to execute all the plans we had made pre-race and everyone on the team rode really, really well, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit in and wait until the end and see what I could do on that last climb. I came up a bit short; I went with maybe 400 metres to go and it was looking pretty good; I was a bit cross-eyed but I thought I was second or third [second] and then I got rolled as I started tying up in the last 150, 200 metres. But I'm proud of the effort.
CC: You've had some experience with Zwift racing - what are some of the things you do differently in a Zwift race compared to a regular race?
MDC: In a regular race, we are racing three, four, five times as long. The warm up is important [in Zwift racing]; I definitely warm up as if I was doing a 'Cross race, because there is sharp intensity right from the go. My role in the team at Rally is often to be covering early moves or helping with lead outs, but those roles don't really exist in Zwift, so you've got to adapt. You're not running a big train of guys up the side of the pack, you can ride through the other riders ... so if you are supposed to cover something you can lone wolf it and move up while your team mates get to rest; you don't need to use three guys to position someone for a climb. Today, I got a pretty armchair ride; nobody's taking it easy on the climbs but there wasn't a ton of requests from our DS [Directeur Sportif] to cover things along the way.
CC: People use power ups during the race, which is very different from real racing; how much does that factor into your strategy?
MDC: I think the fact that Zwift is a video game plays a huge role ... it's not road racing. If someone is a fantastic positional rider in real life; that skillset doesn't translate to Zwift. Using those power ups at the right time is absolutely critical if you want to have a shot at the win. It could just be a matter of using it 1-2 seconds too early or too late in terms of not getting the max benefit out of it, and if someone else just times it a little bit better, that will bridge the gap of 1% or 2% difference in effort. That wouldn't happen in a road race. It can take kilos off your weight or add percentages to your aerodynamics ... so it's definitely a huge, huge factor.
CC: The guy who won is primarily a rower, and he was able to put out a massive 12 W/Kg in the final climb. So does that mean that this is not necessarily a cyclist's event, but more a power/all-around person event?
MDC: I don't think it is necessarily exclusively a bike racer thing. Like I said, a skillset of being able to handle your bike and things like that don't really play into it. So, yes it is in large part about your power profile and what you can do. Obviously, rowers are immensely powerful athletes, and as long as you can make the numbers you can be competitive on the platform. I wouldn't say it's not still bike racing, but those guys are great multi-sport athletes and probably do some cross-training in riding. If it was 12 watts per kilo, then that makes me feel a bit better, because I know I can't do that for a minute and a half! To be able to produce those kind of numbers is super impressive, that's outside of my wheelhouse. For me, that would be like 900 watts at my weight ... that's a big ask.
|Women, 50.035 km|
|1 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (RSA)||1:13:26|
|2 Sarah Gigante (Aus)||+0.064s|
|3 Cecilia Hansen (Swe)||+1.248s|
|4 Lauren Stephens (USA)||+1.266s|
|5 Jacquie Godbe Vision W (USA)||+1.396s|
|6 Annika Langvad (Den)||+1.423s|
|7 Laura Matsen Ko (USA)||+1.535s|
|8 Emma Belforth (Swe)||+1.662s|
|9 Kristen Kulchinsky (USA)||+5.222s|
|10 Bre Vine (Aus)||+6.119s|
|11 Hannah Ludwig (Ger)||+8.415s|
|12 Courtney Nelson (USA)||+8.973s|
|13 Justine Barrow (Aus)||+8.986s|
|14 Anna Henderson (GBr)||+9.514s|
|15 Lou Bates (GBr)||+9.532s|
|16 Fie Østerby (Den)||+9.800s|
|17 Dani Christmas (GBr)||+13.238s|
|18 Georgia Simmerling (Can)||+14.351s|
|19 Kristen Faulkner (USA)||+16.447s|
|20 Tanja Erath (Ger)||+16.527s|
|21 Shayna Powless (USA)||+16.566s|
|22 Elinor Barker (GBr)||+18.545s|
|23 Olivia Baril (Can)||+20.832s|
|24 Borghild Loevset (Nor)||+41.408s|
|25 Christie Tracy (USA)||+55.522s|
|26 Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA)||+01:35|
|27 Shoko Kashiki (Jpn)||+01:37|
|28 Marie-Louise Hartz Krogager (Den)||+01:43|
|29 Ella Harris (NZl)||+01:43|
|30 Sonia Cieciel (Pol)||+01:46|
|31 Bree Wilson (Aus)||+01:47|
|32 Kristin Falck (Nor)||+01:48|
|33 Aurela Nerlo (Pol)||+01:49|
|34 Angela Naeth (Can)||+01:49|
|35 Sarah Storey (GBr)||+01:49|
|36 Marlene Bjärehed (Swe)||+01:54|
|37 Jess Pratt (Aus)||+02:06|
|38 Natalia Franco Villegas (Col)||+02:09|
|39 Vicki Whitelaw (Aus)||+02:16|
|40 Mieke Docx (Bel)||+05:12|
|41 Finja Smekal (Ger)||+07:44|
|42 Lisa Brennauer (Ger)||+07:44|
|43 Martina Alzini (Ita)||+08:55|
|44 Christa Riffel (Ger)||+09:06|
|45 Magdalena Czusz (Pol)||+12:43|
|46 Tata Martins (Por)||+14:44|
|47 Lourdes Oyarbide (Esp)||+19:46|
|DNF Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned|
|DNF Anna vander Breggen (Ned)|
|DNF Kirsten Wild (Ned)|
|Men, 50.035 km|
|1 Jason Osborne (Ger)||1:05:14|
|2 Anders Foldager (Den)||+1.746s|
|3 Nicklas Pedersen (Den)||+2.095s|
|4 Ollie Jones (NZl)||+2.531s|
|5 Ben Hill (Aus)||+2.550s|
|6 Lionel Vujasin (Bel)||+2.736s|
|7 Matteo Dal-Cin (Can)||+2.888s|
|8 Freddy Ovett (Aus)||+3.057s|
|9 Ryan Larson (USA)||+3.109s|
|10 Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Nor)||+3.113s|
|11 Lennert Teugels (Bel)||+3.424s|
|12 Vidar Mehl (Nor)||+4.740s|
|13 Christopher McGlinchey (Irl)||+4.870s|
|14 Jens Schuermans (Bel)||+5.693s|
|15 Tyler Williams (USA)||+6.224s|
|16 Jonas Rapp (Ger)||+6.231s|
|17 Johan Norén (Swe)||+7.212s|
|18 Holden Comeau (USA)||+8.658s|
|19 Pier-André Côté (Can)||+8.720s|
|20 Michal Kaminski (Pol)||+8.756s|
|21 Pawel Bernas (Pol)||+9.043s|
|22 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita)||+9.809s|
|23 Felix Ritzinger (Aut)||+12.354s|
|24 Moran Vermeulen (Aut)||+13.618s|
|25 Rigoberto Uran (Col)||+17.434s|
|26 Olof Åström (Swe)||+22.443s|
|27 Maximilian Stedman (GBr)||+24.392s|
|28 Frederik Muff (Den)||+25.876s|
|29 Lionel Sanders (Can)||+28.233s|
|30 Victor Campenaerts (Bel)||+31.776s|
|31 Tom Pidcock (GBr)||+32.120s|
|32 Miguel Salgueiro (Por)||+32.337s|
|33 Patryk Stosz (Pol)||+34.945s|
|34 Harm Vanhoucke (Bel)||+45.959s|
|35 Lucas Carstensen (Ger)||+51.350s|
|36 Marceli Boguslawski (Pol)||+52.179s|
|37 Jadon Jaeger (USA)||+52.385s|
|38 Tanner Ward (USA)||+52.924s|
|39 Jordan Cheyne (Can)||+58.312s|
|40 Michael Valgren (Den)||+01:13|
|41 Cory Williams (USA)||+02:22|
|42 Brian Hodges (USA)||+02:48|
|43 Ryan Gibbons (RSA)||+03:50|
|44 Miguel Heidemann (Ger)||+03:52|
|45 Charles Etienne Chretien (Can)||+03:56|
|46 Jorge Magalhaes (Por)||+04:01|
|47 Adam Stachowiak (Pol)||+06:05|
|48 Maximilien Picoux (Bel)||+06:40|
|49 Thomas De Gendt (Bel)||+06:43|
|50 Robert Scott (GBr)||+07:05|
|51 Samuel Brännlund (Swe)||+07:22|
|52 Cooper Sayers (Aus)||+07:28|
|53 Wojciech Pszczolarski (Pol)||+07:42|
|54 Jack Haig (Aus)||+11:21|
|55 Daryl Impey (RSA)||+15:18|
|56 Esteban Chaves (Col)||+21:05|
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