Sustaining nearly 300 watts — about 6 watts/kg — on the 21-turn ascent of l’Alpe du Zwift, South African Ashleigh Moolman-Passio (CCC-Liv) crushed the competition in the final stage of the 2020 Zwift Tour for All.
The two-time Olympian from South Africa crossed the finish line atop the climb with a massive advantage of the women’s field. Ella Harris (Canyon-SRAM) finished 49 seconds down with Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB) rolling across 2:16 in arrears.
Moolman-Pasio said she was no stranger to Zwift racing’s longest climb. Ever since the pro racing season was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, she has trained regularly on the climb.
“I’ve spent a fair amount of time on l’Alpe du Zwift doing intervals,” Moolman-Pasio said. “When I started doing top-work intervals I was initially frustrated because I felt like I couldn’t achieve the numbers compared to the climbs where I live, until I found l’Alpe du Zwift and it became my go-to climb. I was simulating what I would do in the real world in the virtual world.”
The l’Alpe du Zwift was created to simulate l’Alpe d’Huez, and the virtual climb has 21 switchbacks and climbs for 12km sustained kilometers at 8 percent. The climb came at the end of a 46-kilometer stage that packed in 1,700 meters (5,500 feet) of climbing. The women covered the course in just over 2.5 hours of racing.
The fifth stage capped of a week of racing on the Tour for All, which was built around a team-wide points competition for the WorldTour squads in the event. Points were available at intermediate sprints and KOM points, as well as at the finish line.
Gigante’s third-place finish secured Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank the overall points victory. Throughout the five stages the American squad scored 391 total points ahead of Canyon-SRAM (351 points) and CCC-Liv (314 points).
Rachel Hedderman, the team’s director, said winning the points competition was the squad’s primary goal throughout the five day event.
“We’ve shown consistency in riding as a team,’ Hedderman said. “The team has been supporting each other, and we’ve had a few stages where we had all five riders scoring points, and others where we’ve had riders up there at the finish in the top-10. It’s encouraging.”
Hedderman said the squad only began racing consistently on Zwift earlier this year as the racing shutdown delayed events across the calendar. The virtual racing presented a hurdle for both new racers and herself, but as the shutdown continued, the squad focused more attention on mastering virtual cycling.
“We had riders on today’s stage in the U.K., in Dallas, and Melbourne, and it’s a pretty unique situation to have riders across three continents racing on one team,” Hedderman said. “It’s been good for us. We’re split across so many time zones so having something like this has brought us together.”
Zwift Tour for All stage 5
- Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, CCC-Liv, 2:34:29
- Ella Harris, Canyon-SRAM, at 0:49
- Sarah Gigante, Tibco-SVB, at 2:16
- Pauliena Rooijakkers, CCC-Liv, at 3:12
- Krista Doebel-Hickok, Rally Cycling, at 3:44
Final Points Classification
- Tibco-SV Bank 391 points
- Canyon-SRAM, 359
- CCC-Liv, 314
- Boels-Dolmans, 157
- Team Twenty20, 147