Seventeen-year-old Filippo Agostinacchio accelerated from the pack in the final kilometers to claim Thursday’s pro/am race, fending off a peloton of top road professionals and experienced Zwift riders for the win. Agostinacchio said he had no real strategy for the finale.
He deployed the No Draft power up to get his initial gap and then simply put his head down and pushed the pedals.
“I did not look at my watts, I just went full out — I was just pushing and pushing,” Agostinacchio told VeloNews. “I couldn’t believe it because I’m an outsider. I just went all in and it feels amazing.”
Agostinacchio’s impressive win came against a field that included professional road teams such as Trinity Racing, Hagens Berman Axeon, and Vitus Pro Cycling, as well as top Zwift squads Canyon-ZCC and Kalas eSports, among others. Pro triathletes Lionel Sanders and Alistair Brownlee were also in the group.
By contrast Agostinacchio is a budding junior mountain biker and cyclocross racer who lives in Northwest Italy. He finished fifth in the junior World Cup in Namur, Belgium, and 10th at the junior World Cup in Zolder, earlier this year. In 2019 he won the European title in the Under-17 division in cross-country mountain bike racing.
“I tried road racing but I broke my derailleur,” Agostinacchio said. “I’ve never done any more road races except Zwift.”
Agostinacchio was gearing up for another big season in cross-country racing when the coronavirus pandemic swept across his homeland. He was racing in Spain when the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep across Northern Italy, and he returned to his hometown of Aosta in early March, just as major road events like Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico were halted.
He said he has not ridden his bicycle outside in more than a month.
“I got home and the next day they shut down everything,” he said.
Agostinacchio describes himself as a punchy climber who excels on short hills but often struggles with longer races. Had Thursday’s Zwift race exceeded 40 minutes, he believes he would have been dropped. But the short, punchy nature of the Zwift events caters to his riding style.
He began training on Zwift three seasons ago, mostly for off-season fitness. The coronavirus shutdown persuaded him to try some Zwift races this spring, and he has won a handful of events. He completes the Zwift events from the workout room in his family’s house, where he lives with his mother, father and brother.
“Zwift was my only training, and also I did some core training and stability exercises,” Agostinacchio said. “I would have just gone mad because I couldn’t go outside and Zwift has saved me.”
London International Results
- Filippo Agostinacchio, Team Italy, 33:19
- Ethan Vernon, Great Britain, at 0.73
- Lionel Vujasin, Canyon-ZCC, at 0.99