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On February 26, Zwift will host the second edition of the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, and the racers will be a mix of those selected by their national federations and elite Zwift racers who earned one of 25 spots through continental qualification races.
Five continental qualifiers (Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa, Pan America) will send five riders each to the start line, in February. They will be held on November 27 (women) and November 28 (men).
“Cycling Esports was born from community racing, no different to any other form of esports competition, and it’s within this community where most of the talent lies,” Eric Min, Zwift’s CEO and co-founder, said in a statement. “Cycling esports is a new discipline and skill, tactics, and experience all play a huge role. I truly believe that we are creating one of the most accessible forms of competition.”
Who can compete for a spot?
Zwift Racing League (ZRL) Premier Division riders are automatically invited to the continental qualifiers. Category A and A+ riders can also get in, provided they have completed two open qualification races, ZRL A Division races, or Zwift open qualification races.
Once a rider has qualified for his or her continental race, he or she must meet the following requirements:
- Zwifters must connect an approved smart trainer as their primary power source and provide secondary power recordings after the race to Zwift Accuracy and Data Analysis (ZADA).
- Zwifters must provide height and weight verification to ZADA.
- A fully functioning heart rate monitor must be connected to Zwift and worn for the duration of the race.
All of the continental qualifiers will be broadcast live on Zwift’s YouTube Channel.
For riders that finish in the top ten of their continental race, a further set of eligibility criteria will follow, including verification of their performance by ZADA, a racing license, and anti-doping testing pool registration. Riders will also be sent hardware to use during the event, as all riders in the esports world championships will use the same model of smart trainer.
The 2022 esports world champs race includes 2.5 laps of Zwift’s New York Knickerbocker route for a total of 54.9km and 944m of climbing. At the end of the two circuits, riders finish at the top of the New York KOM, a 1.4km climb with an average gradient of 6.1 percent and ramps of up to 17 percent.
Field size, broadcast exposure, race distance, and prize money will be equal for both men’s and women’s races.
In December 2020, “Zwift worlds” was won by South African Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and German Jason Osborne. Moolman Pasio races for SD Worx, and Osborne was signed as a stagiaire by Deceunicnk-Quick-Step after rowing to a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics.