Wednesday was the first ever UCI Cycling eSports World Championships, races that utilized the Zwift platform, with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa) and Jason Osborne (Germany) taking the pixelated rainbow jerseys. The Canadian men were very aggressive in their race, and Matteo Dal-Cin earned seventh.
The men and women both tackled the same 50-km course on the Zwift island of Watopia. The racers faced two climbs, the Zwift KOM reverse (2.5km at 1.8 per cent) and the Zwift KOM (0.9km at 5 per cent) for a total of 483 meters of elevation.
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) December 9, 2020
Revealing its video game roots, the Zwift races offered a sprinting aero power up, which reduced the cyclist’s in-game aerodynamic drag by 25 per cent for 15 seconds, and a climbing featherweight power up, which reduced the rider’s weight by 10 percent for 15 seconds.
Fifty-three women would vie for the rainbow jersey. Canada was represented by a trio coming from a mix of different athletic backgrounds: Ironman Virtual Race series second place finisher Angela Naeth, three time multi-sport Olympian Georgia Simmerling and 2019 Zwift Academy top-10 finalist Olivia Baril.
— UCI (@UCI_cycling) December 9, 2020
The pace was fast and Simmerling and Baril worked their way into the lead group led by Moolman-Pasio. Naeth was in the second group. Baril and Naeth opted to wear jaunty flat caps on their avatars.
The penultimate climb demanded that the riders use their featherweight power ups. The Americans had the numbers, and they tried to tire out the legs of the breakaway.
Heading towards the final climb the pace increased. An American used a power up before the ascent and bolted, but Moolman-Pasio counterattacked and went clear. Sarah Gigante (Australia) joined the South African. Moolman-Pasio held off the Australian to become the first ever cycling esports world champion. Swede Cecelia Hansen topped off the podium. Simmerling was top Canadian at 18th.
UCI Cycling eSports World Championships, Elite Women
Gold) Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa) 1:13:27
Silver) Sarah Gigante (Australia) +0.064
Bronze) Cecelia Hansen (Sweden) +0:01.24
18) Georgia Simmerling (Canada)
23) Olivia Baril (Canada)
35) Angela Naeth (Canada)
Canadian triathlete Lionel Sanders joined Canadian Everesting record holder Jordan Cheyne (Elevate–Webiplex Pro Cycling), Charles-Étienne Chrétien (Aevolo) and Rally duo Pier-André Côté and Dal-Cin in the men’s race.
Aggressive early racing dislodged many from the 77-strong field, including Thomas De Gendt and Esteban Chaves. The Canadians held onto the lead group and on a short rise, they took over the front to string out the bunch.
Again, inside the last 4 km Canada went bounding up the road. Cheyne led the way.
Cheyne used his power up inside the last 2 km to surge ahead but Dane Michael Valgren caught him before the final climb. Two Germans crested first and then Jason Osborne went clear, using an aero power-up in the final 200-metres. Two Danes rounded out the podium.
UCI Cycling eSports World Championships, Elite Men
1) Jason Osborne (Germany) 1:05:15
2) Anders Foldager (Denmark) +0:1.74
3) Niklas Pedersen (Denmark) +0:2.09
7) Matteo Dal-Cin (Canada) +0:2.88