German rower Jason Osborne shocked the professionals by sprinting to victory to win the first ever men’s eSports World Championships.
Just an hour after Ashleigh Moolman Pasio had won the inaugural women’s race, Osborne made lightwork of competing against riders with Grand Tour victories and World Championship titles on their palmarès.
The 26-year-old, who is a former rowing world champion and competed at the 2016 Olympics, was racing from the German rowers’ training camp in Portugal.
Despite his commitment to a different sport, Osborne had previously won the Alpe du Zwift race, the virtual equivalent of Alpe d’Huez.
And his ability to use his rowing power on Zwift proved effective once again in the maiden men’s edition of the championships, finishing almost two seconds ahead of Anders Foldager, whose Danish teammate Nicklas Pedersen rounded out the podium.
The 50km race was held on Zwift’s popular Watopia circuit, including one shallow climb and a finishing ascent of 800m that would favour the power sprinters.
Just like in the women’s race, a large and strong leading group formed at the head of the race, including Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway, Victor Campenaerts of Belgium and Britain’s Tom Pidcock and Max Stedman.
Pidcock made a move with 18km to go but his attack didn’t amount to anything sufficient.
The front of the race remained in one piece as the kilometres ticked by, riders across the world racing furiously in their own homes.
Canada were working well together and looked to be the strongest nation, packing the leading group with five riders
But the chances of a solo move sticking appeared remote, and at the foot of the final climb – a steep effort of less than a kilometre – it was obvious that it would be a sprint to the line to determine the winner.
The fastest up the ascent was Germany’s Osborne who crossed the line 1.74 seconds ahead of Foldager, with Pedersen slightly behind.