Rower who won men's eSports Worlds: 'I know how to hurt myself a lot'

The rower used his power from his day-to-day job to win the maiden championships.

The first ever winner of the men’s eSports World Championships Jason Osborne says that knowing how to suffer was his secret weapon behind his triumph.

Despite a host of leading road stars competing, including Briton Tom Pidcock and former time trial world champion Victor Campenaerts, it was the German rower Osborne who triumphed.

The 26-year-old, who next year will compete in his second Olympics in the lightweight double sculls, attacked on the finishing climb of the Watopia circuit.

His win may have surprised many unfamiliar with eRacing on Zwift, but the former rowing world champion has form, having previously won Alpe du Zwift, a virtual ascent of Alpe d’Huez.

“I know how to hurt myself a lot,” Osborne said after securing his first rainbow jersey. “I took that strength from rowing to cycling today and it worked really well.

“I trained quite well in the past few weeks and prepared the best I could. I knew that it would be quite open and the course was suitable for a lot of guys.

“Zwift is not really comparable with outside cycling: here there is so much going on, and it’s the experience that wins on Zwift – the guys who know how to race it.”

The race was a tightly controlled affair with no rider able to go clear and mount a credible solo attack. It meant that it played into the hands of the powerful riders like Osborne.

He added: “I knew that the last 80 seconds were important and I made sure not to keep it too late but also not to go too early. It could have gone a different way and it was quite open for everyone.

“It was not a really hilly course for climbers so it was quite a gamble. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Before Osborne’s triumph, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio became the first ever woman to win the championships, the South African also attacking in the final kilometre.

Turning 35 on the day of the race, she said: “It was really awesome. I wasn’t a fan of virtual training before the lockdown and lockdown really converted me, and now to win the virtual world champion jersey – I’m really proud.”