With the first-ever UCI cycling esports world championships fast approaching, the Echelon Racing League is offering Team USA and domestic elite team riders a chance at some pre-race competition on RGT, a virtual riding software that USA Cycling used for its e-worlds qualification trials.
While the world championship event will be hosted on Zwift, a different digital platform, several members of Team USA are set to compete in Echelon Racing League events to prep for the championships.
Although there are differences between platforms and game dynamics, Team USA riders are still excited for the opportunity to hone gaming skills, fitness, and team dynamics on RGT.
“The Echelon Racing League series is a good way to recall tips and tricks I’ve learned and unravel what I’m yet to understand,” said Krista Doebel-Hickok (Rally Pro Cycling). While noting the differences between Zwift and RGT, Hickok added there are a few similarities between the platforms. “I started on Zwift, and my first races on RGT did not exactly go flawlessly. I underestimated the impact of losing the draft whether that is due to a dropout in WiFi or focus. Either are rather catastrophic on RGT.”
The Echelon Racing League has a structured, eight-race calendar features set team rosters and recreations of in-real-life roads.
For Hickok, it’s all about being ready for a big event, racing herself into better shape. “I’m always most excited for the next race, the next opportunity. I don’t show up to any race to give 50 percent,” she said. “I don’t show up to any training to give 50 percent. When I commit to something, I commit. I want to do my best. I don’t give myself excuses.”
Jaden Jager, who will represent Team USA at the UCI cycling esports world championships, said he values the multiple-race, multi-day format that affords opportunities to function as a team.
“I am able to get in three consecutive days of solid racing. That race intensity can only help me in my training for worlds,” Jager said. “Team communication is very important before and during the race. Everyone has to be on the same page and have the same goal in mind. Getting a Team USA member across the line first will definitely require a team effort and communication will be crucial to our success.”
Triathlete and Zwift racer Jacqueline Godbe, also representing the United States next month at the world championships, notes the benefit of preparing using the RGT platform, and that this platform has nuances that enhance her training for when she does return to Zwift.
“The drafting benefit on Zwift [compared with RGT] is also more uniform so it’s less important to worry about where I am in the drafting zone as long as I’m in it,” she said.
The Echelon Racing League pro race series continues with the Tour of the Gila. The Silver City Criterium will take place on December 4th, followed by the Mogollon Road Race on December 5th, and then the Gila Monster Road Race on December 6th.