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Top domestic road teams to battle Zwift squads at virtual Redlands Bicycle Classic

The virtual Redlands Bicycle Classic kicks off Friday with a virtual crit featuring top riders from the domestic U.S. road scene.

Redlands is back — sort of. 

On Friday the famed U.S. domestic stage race returns as a two-day virtual event on Zwift, hosted by Project Echelon Racing, a non-profit, domestic team. Friday’s event is a 25-mile criterium and it kicks off at 9 p.m. EST (7 p.m. MST). On Sunday at noon EST (10 a.m. MST), riders tackle a longer 40-mile hilly circuit race that is made to resemble Redlands’s famed Sunset Loop.

The Project Echelon series has attracted a smattering of top domestic teams and virtual racing squads from the Zwift community. The tentative start list includes pro road teams Wildlife Generation, Hincapie-Leomo-BMC, L3gion of Los Angeles, and Toronto Hustle, and Team Skyline, as well as Zwift current top-ranked squad, Indoor Specialists.

The race is being broadcast by the Zwift community ZCL, and you can stream both races live on VeloNews.com and on our Facebook page.

The Redlands race is part of Project Echelon’s plan to recreate three of USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour domestic stage races in virtual form. Project Echelon is also hosting Zwift events for the Tour of the Gila and the Joe Martin Stage Race. All three events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual races give those riders and teams an opportunity to compete.

Riders and team directors have viewed the virtual events as a lifeline for organized racing.

“It obviously doesn’t replace racing on the road, but it is an amazing supplement especially in the current situation we are all in,” said Chris Creed, director of Utah’s Gateway Devo cycling team. “We love how challenging the races are, and the fact that we can virtually race with so many people from all over the world.”

Friday’s event is comprised of 25 laps of the 1.9km Dolphin Loop at Zwift’s Crit City Course. Each team is allowed a maximum of eight riders, and all riders must submit to a photographed weigh-in prior to the event. Also, the rules forbid riders from using the Zwift power-ups during play.

Eric Hill, founder of Project Echelon and the brainchild behind the event, said in a release that the virtual race is accessible to new fans of the sport.

“eSports and Zwift racing is more globally accessible,” Hill said. “It allows us to reach regions of the world, demographics, potential sponsors, and future races that might otherwise go unreached.”