UCI Zwift Cycling esports World Championships preview: the route, TV coverage and riders to watch

First-ever esports Worlds to take place in Watopia

Anna van der Breggen at the 2020 UCI Road World Championships

To end a year in which working from home has taken on a new dimension the world over, cycling’s top pros will go head-to-head virtually for the sport’s first-ever UCI Zwift Cycling esports World Championships on Wednesday 9 December.

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The inaugural esports worlds will see stars of the men and women’s pelotons transport themselves to the virtual roads of Zwift’s Watopia and tackle a 50km course on the Figure 8 Reverse course.

Anna van der Breggen, Tom Pidcock, Rigoberto Urán, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio have all been confirmed for the event.

Cycling fans can watch the action unfold on Zwift’s YouTube channel or even on TV.

Here’s everything you need to know, including the route, how to watch and riders to look out for.

The course

Zwift World Championships course
The 50km course features two climbs, finishing on the Watopia Hilly K/QOM.
Zwift

Both the men and women will tackle the same 50km course on the Watopia Figure 8 Reverse course.

The course features 483m of elevation and should favour all-rounders in the fight for the first-ever esports rainbow jerseys, with the Watopia Hilly K/QOM hosting the finale.

It is one of two climbs on the course, both of which are tackled twice and both with a maximum gradient of 8 per cent. The Hilly K/QOM is 0.9km long in total with an average gradient of 5.5 per cent.

How to watch

While riders will be putting themselves through the wringer on Zwift’s virtual roads, you can watch from the comfort of your own home, without breaking a sweat, with the event set to be broadcast across the world.

European fans can watch on Eurosport 2, with commentary available in 21 languages, while L’Equipe and Sporza are among the broadcasters showing country-specific feeds.

In the USA and Canada, FloSports will be broadcasting live. Alternatively, you can also check out Zwift’s YouTube channel to watch live.

You can watch both races from 2pm UTC/GMT on Wednesday 9 December.

Five riders to watch – men

Tom Pidcock at the 2020 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships
Tom Pidcock is no stranger to the rainbow jersey.
Alex Whitehead/SWPix.com

Tom Pidcock (GBR) – Still only 21, Yorkshire-born all-rounder Tom Pidcock already boasts an enviable collection of rainbow jerseys across a multitude of disciplines. Set for Ineos Grenadiers next year, Pidcock is a junior and under-23 world champion in cyclocross, a junior time-trial gold medallist and the under-23 XC and eMTB world champion too. A man for all seasons, his crit success in Britain as a teenager has already marked him as a contender for punchy courses and short, deep efforts. One to watch.

Victor Campenaerts (BEL) – As a time-trial specialist and current UCI Hour Record holder, there is no doubting the engine of Victor Campenaerts. If the Belgian can get a gap, or go deep on the Hilly K/QOM climb, he will be a top contender.

Alberto Bettiol (ITA) – You don’t win the Tour of Flanders without being hard as nails, coupled with the ability to take on short, sharp climbing efforts. Compared to the Ronde, Watopia’s Figure 8 Reverse course should be easy pickings.

Lionel Vujasin (BEL) – The beauty of the esports worlds could be in the opportunity for lesser-known names to shine. Belgian esports specialist Lionel Vujasin is a prime example. Part of the Canyon Esports team, he is in training for the Zwift Academy finals at the moment.

Freddy Ovett (AUS) – As if proving the above point, 26-year-old Scottish-born Australian Freddy Ovett’s on-road CV is capped only by a couple of notable top-ten places in second-tier races. Yet, in the summer, he was one of the stars of the Virtual Tour de France for Israel Start-Up Nation and won a stage. At the very least, it proved he shouldn’t be overlooked for the worlds.

Five riders to watch – women

Anna van der Breggen at the 2020 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships
Anna van der Breggen won the road race and time-trial double at the road worlds in Imola. Can she add a third rainbow jersey to her 2020 collection in Watopia?
Simon Wilkinson/SWPix.com

Anna van der Breggen (NED) – A serial winner on the road and no stranger to the rainbow bands, Anna van der Breggen is already the incumbent holder of the road race and time-trial world titles. An all-rounder with a serious engine, a third rainbow jersey in 2020 would not be a surprise.

Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) – Like her compatriot, Annemiek van Vleuten has proved herself time and again on the road and has the collection of rainbow jerseys to show for it. One of the peloton’s strongest riders – she was second at the worlds despite a broken wrist earlier this year – van Vleuten is another class act to keep a close eye on.

Lauren Stephens (USA) – A star of the Virtual Tour de France, Lauren Stephens has already conquered the virtual Champs-Élysées this year, among several Zwift highlights. The American has the esports CV to prove she’s a contender and should not be overlooked.

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (RSA) – Another to have impressed at the Virtual Tour de France, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio won on the virtual Ventoux. This course is shorter and features less climbing, but the South African has repeatedly shown her class on the road and has acquired a taste for Zwift success this year.

Cecilia Hansen (SWE) – Picked by Zwift as the dark horse for this race, Cecilia Hansen is an esports specialist, similarly to Vujasin in the men’s race. She has the firepower and, thanks to her esports credentials, the tactical nous to spring a surprise on the household names.

Great Britain men’s line-up

Ed Clancy, Tom Pidcock, Robert Scott, Max Stedman, Andy Tennant.

Great Britain women’s line-up

Elinor Barker, Megan Barker, Louise Bates (wildcard), Dani Christmas, Anna Henderson, Dame Sarah Storey.

UCI Zwift Cycling esports World Championships start lists

Men’s elite

*denotes a rider who will be participating as a wildcard

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AUS Will Clarke
AUS Jack Haig
AUS Benjamin Hill
AUS Freddy Ovett
AUS Cooper Sayers
AUS Jay Vine
AUS Nicholas White
AUT Felix Ritzinger
AUT Moran Vermeulen
BEL Victor Campenaerts*
BEL Eli Iserbyt*
BEL Maximilien Picoux
BEL Jens Schuermans
BEL Lennert Teugels
BEL Julien Van den Brande
BEL Harm Vanhoucke*
BEL Lionel Vujasin
CAN Jordan Cheyne
CAN Charles-Etienne Chrétien
CAN Pier-André Coté
CAN Matteo Dal-Cin
CAN Lionel Sanders
COL Esteban Chaves
COL Rigoberto Urán
DEN Anders Foldager
DEN Frederik Muff
DEN Nicklas Pedersen
DEN Michael Valgren
ESP Carlos Barbero
ESP Victor De La Parte Gonzalez
ESP Ivan Garcia Cortina
ESP Juan Pedro Lopez Perez
ESP Luis Angel Mate Mardones
FRA Valentin Madouas*
FRA Jordan Sarrou
FRA Benjamin Thomas*
GBR Edward Clancy
GBR Tom Pidcock*
GBR Robert Scott
GBR Maximilian Stedman
GBR Andrew Tennant
GER Lucas Carstensen
GER Miguel Heidemann
GER Jonas Koch
GER Jason Osborne
GER Jonas Rapp
IRL Christopher McGlinchey
ITA Alberto Bettiol*
ITA Francesco Lamon
ITA Domenico Pozzovivo*
ITA Michele Scartezzini
JPN Fumiyuki Beppu
JPN Nariyuki Masuda
NOR Edvald Boasson Hagen
NOR Jonas Hvideberg
NOR Vidar Mehl
NZL Ollie Jones
POL Paweł Bernas
POL Michał Kamiński
POL Wojciech Pszczolarski
POL Adam Stachowiak
POL Patryk Stosz
POR Jorge Magalhães
POR Miguel Salgueiro
RSA Ryan Gibbons
RSA Daryl Impey
SUI Lars Forster*
SWE Olof Åström
SWE Samuel Brännlund
SWE Johan Norén
USA Holden Comeau
USA Lawson Craddock
USA Brian Hodges
USA Jadon Jaeger
USA Ryan Larson
USA Tanner Ward
USA Tyler Williams
USA Cory Williams

Women’s elite

*denotes a rider who will be participating as a wildcard

AUS Justine Barrow
AUS Sarah Gigante
AUS Jessica Pratt
AUS Bre Vine
AUS Vicki Whitelaw
AUS Bre Wilson
BEL Mieke Docx
CAN Olivia Baril
CAN Angela Naeth
CAN Georgia Simmerling
COL Natalia Franco
DEN Marie-Louise Hartz
DEN Annika Langvad
DEN Fie Østerby
ESP Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez
FRA Marie Le Net
GBR Elinor Barker
GBR Megan Barker
GBR Louise Bates*
GBR Danielle Christmas
GBR Anna Henderson*
GBR Jenny Holl
GBR Sarah Storey
GER Franziska Brausse
GER Lisa Brennauer
GER Tanja Erath
GER Hannah Ludwig
GER Christa Riffel
GER Finja Smekal
ITA Martina Alzini
JPN Shoko Kashiki
JPN Eri Yonamine
NED Anna van der Breggen*
NED Annemiek Van Vleuten*
NED Kirsten Wild*
NOR Kristin Falck
NOR Borghild Løvset
NZL Ella Harris
POL Sonia Cięciel-Zambrzycki
POL Magdalena Czusz
POL Aurela Nerlo
POR Tata Martins
RSA Ashleigh Moolman Pasio
SWE Emma Belforth
SWE Marlene Bjärehed
SWE Cecilia Hansen
USA Krista Doebel-Hickok
USA Kristen Faulkner
USA Jacqueline Godbe
USA Kristen Kulchinsky
USA Laura Matsen-Ko
USA Courtney Nelson
USA Shayna Powless
USA Lauren Stephens
USA Christie Tracy
AUS Justine Barrow
AUS Sarah Gigante
AUS Jessica Pratt
AUS Bre Vine
AUS Vicki Whitelaw
AUS Bre Wilson
BEL Mieke Docx
CAN Olivia Baril
CAN Angela Naeth
CAN Georgia Simmerling
COL Natalia Franco
DEN Marie-Louise Hartz
DEN Annika Langvad
DEN Fie Østerby
ESP Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez
FRA Marie Le Net
GBR Elinor Barker
GBR Megan Barker
GBR Louise Bates*
GBR Danielle Christmas
GBR Anna Henderson*
GBR Jenny Holl
GBR Sarah Storey