Cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste International, will sanction the first esports world championships in 2020, held on the online riding platform Zwift. The news was revealed Thursday afternoon at the UCI world championships in Yorkshire, England.
Esports becomes the newest discipline to join the UCI’s lineup of world championship events, alongside the traditional events such as the road race and individual time trial. The races will be held on the Zwift platform, which already has virtual courses made to mimic past UCI road world championship courses in Richmond, Virginia, and Innsbruck, Austria.
David Lappartient, president of the UCI, said the governing body wanted to remain open to technical innovations in order to “remain relevant to all audiences.”
“Zwift is a platform that is enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities,” Lappartient said. “However, there is a particularly exciting opportunity through esports as we look to attract a younger audience to cycling. together we have an opportunity to support a fitter youth, through the creation of a new sustainable sport.”
Craig Edmondson, CEO of Zwift ESports, said the competition will feature equal opportunities for both male and female competitors.
“This means the same number of races, the same coverage for races, and of course, equal prize money,” Edmondson said. “We will set the standard for fair play and equality.”
Zwift’s launch into professional competition has ramped up in 2019 with the creation of the KISS Super League, and the launch of the Zwift Classics Series. Check out an in-depth feature on Zwift’s push to popularize esports on the latest print issue of VeloNews magazine.