The 2018 world champion German rower was lead out by teammate Jonas Rapp from the base of the final climb. At 400m to go Osborne came around Rapp, sustaining over 10w/kg, to ride away from the main group.
“I knew that it was the last 80 seconds which were important and kept it not too late, not too early, so it could have gone a different way and it was quite open for everyone. [It was] not like a really hilly course for climbers, so it was quite a gamble. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Osborne said.
How the race unfolded
With 27km remaining a separation had a front group of 40 with a lead of 90 seconds over a large chase group. A smaller pack sat between these two groups of riders, but could not close down the gap to the leaders.
Freddy Ovett (AUS) and Lionel Vujasin (BEL) did work on the front. Vujasin was the No.1 ranked rider in Zwift coming into this race.
Tom Pidcock (GBR) came up to the lead at 23km to go. He will be starting a contract with the Ineos Grenadiers in 2021.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) marked this move by the Brit, neutralizing it as the bunch came back together.
The team from Canada was well organized and took turns pushing the pace.
World hour record holder Victor Campenearts (BEL) took a pull on the front at 17km to go, but he was marked by Domenico Pozzovivo (ITL), and again the group came back together.
Campenaerts took another big pull at 7.7km and again was brought back by the well-organized Canadian squad lead by professional triathlete Lionel Sanders. Jordan Cheyne (CAN) then tried to use this move as a launchpad to get away, but this move was brought back immediately.
With less than 2.5km remaining, just 40 men were at the front.
Michael Valgren (DEN) went to the front on the flat before the final climb, and as the group hit the final slope he was brought back when the German squad took to the front.
Rapp lead Osborne into 500m to go, and Osborne took over 100m later, riding away from the fast-charging peloton.
“I do know how to hurt myself a lot, and obviously Zwift is not really comparable with the outside cycling. Here is so much more going on. It’s the experience that wins in Zwift. The guys who know how to race it. Obviously, I took that strength from rowing to cycling today and it worked really well,” Osborne said. “Basically, I trained like quite well in the past few weeks and prepared the best I could and I knew that it’s quite open, like the course was suitable for a lot of guys.”
For his efforts, Osborne took home a real-life rainbow jersey, a digital rainbow jersey to wear while Zwifting, and €8,000.
Osborne plans to continue training for the Tokyo Olympics, with the goal of winning the gold medal in the men’s lightweight double sculls.
2020 UCI cycling esports world championships men’s results
Full results are available from Zwiftpower.