The rise of esports has been the most important change we’ve seen in bike racing in the last 20 years. Zwift and similar platforms have begun a revolution, not just in how racing happens, but in who can compete.
Zwift is open to anyone, from anywhere. It’s the very opposite of professional road racing in terms of accessibility and expense.
From a performance point of view, Zwift means that any of us can race against the best, and it means that talented riders from outside mainstream pro cycling can get themselves noticed.
In this edition of Faster, I talk to two of the world’s most successful Zwifters.
Aussie Jay Vine is the current UCI Esports World Champion, and also races on the road at the highest level. Riding for the Alpecin Deceuninck team, he’s been second in the Tour of Norway, and was unlucky not to take a stage of the 2020 Vuelta a Espana. We look at how racing online in and in real life can benefit each other, and how he’s used them together to get the best out of himself.
In contrast with Jay’s twin-track career, Kristen Kulchinsky from the US is a full-on esports specialist. She has been the top-ranked Zwift woman for much of the last couple of years, and while she’s dominant online, she barely rides in the real world at all, even in training. There’s no one who knows more about the physical and mental demands of this very pure form of bike racing.
And coach and former pro-racer Dan Fleeman tells me about the Zwift Academy, a talent search programme that finds some of the best esports riders (including Jay Vine himself) contracts with top pro road teams.
Season 2 of Faster
Catch up with all episodes from season two
Season 1 of Faster
Catch up with all of season one.
Episode 1: Steve Cummings on engineering wins
Episode 2: Katie Archibald on training through an ever changing pandemic
Episode 3: Stepping up to the senior ranks
Episode 4: How ultra endurance riders keep going
Episode 5: Dan Bigham's relentless search for more speed
Episode 6: Olympic champion Alastair Brownlee on keeping your focus
The weekly show is produced with Stripped Media, and will be available on Spotify and all the usual podcast sources, just search 'Faster with Dr Hutch' in you podcast app of choice
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