Online training platform Zwift has announced its men’s and women’s national championships, in which riders from the top 15 countries (i.e. the ones with the most Zwifters) will compete for the right to wear a virtual national jersey for a year.
There will be separate men’s and women’s races for each of the selected countries, which for 2018 are as follows: USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Sweden, South Korea, Denmark, Switzerland, France and Poland.
All will hold their national championship races on Saturday 24 February except Australia, whose race will take place later this year (date TBC) to align with the indoor cycling season south of the equator. According to Zwift, more countries will be able to compete next year.
For 2018, both men’s and women’s races will take place on the Watopia Volcano Climb course. The men’s races will cover three laps of the 14.2 miles circuit (2,007ft of climbing) while the women will do two laps, making for 1,388ft of ascending.
We queried the difference in distances — which aren’t a given in a virtual competition — and Zwift explained that the original format was based on the UCI’s national road races, but that it had polled a significant number of female racers intending to compete in the virtual championships and the consensus was in favour of not adding a third lap to match the men’s race.
As the Zwift National Championships are proper races, there are naturally some rules which are laid out in full on the event page.
Interestingly, riders producing more than 5W/kg average power will be automatically disqualified unless they can provide evidence of similar real-world performances for verification by ZADA, the Zwift Anti-Doping Agency. Yep, it’s a thing!
You’ll also have to wear a heart rate monitor to be eligible for the win and smart trainers (or power meters) are mandatory.