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Team Heino dominates Yorkshire Grand Prix as Megan Rathwell breaks away

Team Heino and Canadian rider Megan Rathwell dominated Sunday's Zwift Yorkshire Grand Prix.

There were two eye-popping performances in Sunday’s Yorkshire Grand Prix, the opening round of the 2020 Zwift Classics.

Danish squad Team Heino utterly dominated the race, which was a points race-style competition built around two intermediate sprints, two intermediate QOMs, and the final finish line. Heino collected nearly three times as many points as the closest competitor, outscoring second-place team Race 3R 134 to 54 points, with Team Saris (53 points), Team Fearless (38) and Revo (32) rounding out the final top-5.

The squad was led by Cecile Hansen and Louise Houbak, and they sprung to an early lead, with the two finishing second and third, respectively in the opening sprint. Houbak then led Hansen out for the battle for the opening QOM and hit 9.2 watts-per-kilogram before allowing Hansent to attack for the maximu 10 points with Houbak in second.

By the race’s midpoint Team Heino owned an insurmountable lead with 40 points ahead of Race 3R’s 17 points. The Danish team never looked back in the battle for the points.

The second impressive performance was put down by Canadian rider Megan Rathwell of Team Saris, who attacked from the diminished front group on the final climb, dropped her breakaway companions, and then soloed in for the maximum 25 points at the finish line.

The finish boosted Rathwell’s Team Saris squad into third place in the final points standings.

“It was a time trial, full gas — I didn’t have anything left, and if anyone had come with me I wouldn’t have been able to sprint with them,” Rathwell told VeloNews. “I was totally blown.”

The attack came after Rathwell rode at the front of the peloton for nearly the entire race. The tactic at first seemed to put Rathwell at a disadvantage — she was swarmed by the Heino duo in the battle for the opening sprint an QOM points. The Canadian said that riding on the front is her preferred strategy in road racing, which is why she decided to do it in the Zwift race as well.

“I ride the front a lot when I’m doing a 150-kilometer road race because I can control the pace,” Rathwell said. “Maybe I spent a bit too much time in the virtual wind today, but that’s the way I tend to ride.”

Rathwell said the attack up the final QOM was unplanned — she felt good and decided to ride a hard tempo to see if anyone would follow her. When nobody did, she decided to push the pace all the way to the finish. The effort, Rathwell said, was one of the hardest she’s ever produced on a bicycle.

“That was my all-time highest 20-minute power,” she said. “It was brutal.”

Rathwell formerly raced as a professional road racer on the Red Truck Racing and BMW-Happy Tooth Dental teams. These days she is a student and is finishing her degree in Civil Engineering. Sunday was her first Zwift Classics professional race.

“I was nervous coming into the race because the Tour of Flanders didn’t happen and I looked and saw so many strong riders were doing this race,” she said. “I think it worked out that I took a chance.”

Results, Yorkshire Grand Prix

Finish

  1. Megan Rathwell, Saris, 40:17
  2. Cecilia Hansen, Team Heino, at 29.80
  3. Lou Bates, R3 Racing, at 29.95
  4. Louise Houbak, Team Heino, at 35.12
  5. Shanni Berger, Team Fearless, at 36.05

Overall Points

  1. Heino, 134 points
  2. Race 3R, 54
  3. Team Saris, 53
  4. Team Fearless, 38
  5. Revo, 32