Zwift is bringing together some of its more dedicated cyclists for another competitive riding event. On February 26th, the workout platform will host the second UCI Cycling Esports World Championships ever, which takes place on a course set in a virtual version of Central Park in New York City.
Riders will complete two laps of the 22.5 km (~14 mile) Knickerbocker route plus some additional track to make up the complete 54.9 km (34 mile) circuit. The New York course features some glass roadways that are suspended above the park to add more elevation and a sci-fi twist to the ride. Pay close attention and you'll see flying cars zipping around too.
The competitors will all use the Wahoo Kickr V5 Smart Trainers. Zwift says these intelligently respond to climb gradients as well as simulated draft from other riders.
Since this is a virtual event, Zwift is able to shake things up a bit from traditional road races. Riders will have seven chances to pick up Mario Kart-style PowerUps during the race (a regular feature on Zwift courses). They can deploy these at strategic times to temporarily increase the draft effect, boost aerodynamic efficiency or reduce the bike's weight.
Around 180 riders will compete across the men's and women's races. The winners will each receive a physical and digital championship jersey they can wear for sanctioned esports races and activities and while their avatar is active on Zwift. The event will be broadcast on Eurosport in Europe and on GCN+ and Zwift's YouTube channel around the world.
Zwift notes that all users had the chance to secure a spot in the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships through continental qualifier races. It says that while it's early days for cycling esports, some specialist riders have already emerged. As the metaverse continues to take shape, perhaps we'll start seeing more physical esports events in other disciplines.