Zwift users – or Zwifters as the virtual cycling platform calls them – will be able to test themselves against part of the course of this year’s UCI Road Cycling World Championships course with the company’s announcement today of a partnership today with the organisers of September’s event in Innsbruck-Tirol, Austria.
The new feature will go live in August and is based around the the opening 15-mile circuit of the course - in its entirety, billed the toughest in decades - as well as featuring landmarks from the region.
Zwift says it will also give pro riders who use the platform a chance to recce the part of the course known as the ‘Olympic lap’ – ridden seven times during the men’s race and three times in the women’s version and with a 5-mile climb – before heading out to Austria for the event.
Zwift co-founder and CEO Eric Min said: “This course is something we’ve not seen at the UCI Road World Championships for many years and will translate into something incredible for our Zwift community
“It’s going to be fantastic to be riding alongside World Championship contenders conducting their course recons on Zwift. I can’t wait.”
The company highlights that remote course familiarisation is already commonly used in Formula 1 motor car racing and the August release will enable cyclists to do likewise for the first time.
Team Dimension Data’s Berhard Eisel, likely to be one of the men representing the host nation, said: “This has the potential to be truly ground-breaking for the national teams
“The lead contenders will certainly be performing course reconnaissance in the coming months, as is the norm. However, what is new is the ability to repeatedly train on a key segment of the course and understand when the best moments to attack will come.
“For riders such as myself, who will serve as supporting riders, we need to understand when the critical moments of the race will come and ensure our leaders are in the best position possible. And it will be super motivating to prepare alongside Zwifters from all over the world.”
Esther Wilhelm, head of communications of the Innsbruck organising committee, commented: “Legacy is an important consideration for any host city. Zwift will help us to enable more people worldwide to experience the challenges and beauty of Innsbruck-Tirol.
“The World Championships will be a celebration of the fantastic cycling here. Zwift will be the perfect platform for people to train for their next cycling holiday or sportive event here in Tirol.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.