Virtual cycling is one of nine esports to be showcased at the Olympic Esports Week and the live finals in Singapore this June.
Organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Olympic Esports Series 2023 is meant to showcase the best of virtual sports, both the athleticism and the technologies behind them. While no Olympic medals will be handed out just yet, this is the IOC's latest step toward potentially including virtual competitions in some form at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA.
The virtual cycling contest is a combined effort of cycling's governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), and the virtual riding platform Zwift. The racing will see 11 countries represented with 16 athletes competing across in co-ed teams.
Held on Zwift’s Scotland map, the cycling competition's finale will be held in front of a live audience in Singapore's Suntec Centre June 23-25.
These finals will feature four, multinational teams of four cyclists – two women and two men – who will compete in a series of six races that will test their physical fitness and mastery of Zwift’s in-game elements.
Building on the race format first seen in February's 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, each team will take on three challenges in the Olympic Esports Series 2023 Cycling Competition: the Eliminator, the Sprint and the Climb. Each of these challenges will have a men’s and women’s race, and riders will earn points according to their finishing position. The team that accumulates the most points are crowned the world’s first Olympic Esports Series winners.
Olympic Esports Series: The Race Format
The Eliminator, 13.3km: All riders will take on the Eliminator, which will be held on the hilly Wee Yin course created especially for the Olympic Esports Series 2023. This course features three ascents of the Sgurr Summit followed by the Glasgow Crit Circuit. The starting fields for men’s and women’s races will be eight athletes. Each time the race passes through an arch, the last-placed athlete will be eliminated until there are just three riders left for the final sprint. Points will be awarded according to final positions and the order of elimination.
The Sprint, 3.2km: Each team will put forward their best male and best female sprinter to contest one single lap of the Glasgow Crit circuit. The starting fields for these races will be four athletes. Points will be awarded at the intermediate sprint (Clyde Kicker) and at the finish line (Champions Sprint).
The Climb, 2.7km: Finally, the team’s best climbers will get their turn. The Climb will take place on the steep slopes of the Sgurr. First rider to the summit wins the race.
The team that accumulates the most points across all three races are crowned the world’s first Olympic Esports Series winners.
Olympic Esports Series: The Competitors
The finalists selected to participate in the Olympic Esports Series have proven themselves at the Zwift Grand Prix cycling series and the 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships. Collectively, they represent 11 nations.
Lou Bates from Great Britain
Marlene Bjärehed from Sweden
James Barnes from South Africa
Martin Maertens from Germany
Vicki Whitelaw from Australia
Linda Klein from the Netherlands
Zack Nehr from USA
Kjell Power from Belgium
Alice Lethbridge from Great Britain
Teppo Laurio from Finland
Lionel Vujasin from Belgium
Jacquie Godbe from USA
Charlotte Colclough from Great Britain
Ben Hill from Australia
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