An Australian walks into his pain cave and dominates yet another Zwift race.
A field featuring two former Tour de France winners and the reigning Giro d’Italia champion was no match for world time trial champion Rohan Dennis, who stormed to yet another virtual race victory, attacking from the gun and maintaining his effort until he crossed the finish line in first place.
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With the Ineos squad split into six teams to compete against each other, British national champion Ben Swift made it a one-two for ‘team four’ as he finished second, with Dylan Van Baarle finishing third while Russian Pavel Sivakov came fourth.
Taking on the Tour of Tewit Well course on Zwift, totalling 41.6km in length with a total elevation of 800m, Dennis attacked in the first few kilometres alongside fellow time trial specialist Jonathan Castroviejo.
The Spaniard eventually fell away, however, and the chase effort finally got organised in the last of the four laps with 10km to go, coming to within just a few seconds of catching the Australian, who also won the king of the mountains classification.
Geraint Thomas finished 10th, 40 seconds off the pace, while Chris Froome was detached late-on after some aggressive racing at the business end of proceedings.
How it happened
The time trialling pair of Rohan Dennis and Jonathan Castroviejo jumped away from their team-mates-turned-rivals inside the opening few kilometres of the first of four laps. Over a minute ahead at the end of the first lap, Dennis’ avatar was helmet-less, featuring long hair and a beard, somewhat reminiscent of Jeff Lebowski.
Tao Geoghegan Hart led the chasing bunch, with Chris Froome hanging around at the back, putting out around 250w, a cadence of 90rpm and a heart rate of 125bpm.
Castroviejo was battling to keep on Dennis’ wheel, with the Australian taking maximum points at the first two KoM summits, opening up a four-point lead in that competition, his effort made more impressive by the fact he was riding at an altitude of 2,000m at his home in Andorra.
New signee, the triathlete Cameron Wurf, fought to get back on terms as he started to drop from the bunch on an uphill section, as Dennis and Castroviejo increased their advantage to 1-50.
As the race reached the halfway mark and the time gap briefly increased above the two-minute mark, Andrey Amador made a move that stirred the chasing group into life. The Costa Rican’s acceleration was quickly shut down but with wattages going above 350w, the impetus had returned to the race.
Tour de Yorkshire winner Chris Lawless made his move as the main bunch began to splinter, with Froome putting out 500w to stay in contact.
Castroviejo finally began to crack as Dennis opened up a 10-second gap to the Spaniard, scooping up more KoM points as he went, putting out 450w with a heart rate of 178bpm.
Pavel Sivakov and Eddie Dunbar had brought the Australian back to within 1-20 as Froome, Geraint Thomas and others chased to catch up to the two poursuivants.
Castroviejo started to drift back towards Dunbar, the pair both riding for ‘team two’, while another team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart started to bridge across.
Sivakov put a dig in as he and Dunbar passed Castroviejo, still 1-10 behind Dennis, as Geoghegan Hart was swallowed back up by the chase group behind.
Ben Swift attacked with 11.5km to go, attempting to bridge to Dunbar and Sivakov, with Chris Froome then trying to get across to the British national champion’s wheel.
Sivakov and Dunbar were brought back into the fold with just over 8km to go, as Michał Kwiatkowski, Dylan van Baarle and Ben Swift caught the duo, all five now 47 seconds behind Dennis.
With 7km to go the gap had fallen to 38 seconds as Froome found himself 30 seconds behind, and Geraint Thomas trying to chase back on to the poursuivant group attempting to thwart Dennis’ coronation.
The Australian’s advantage fell under the half-minute mark a kilometre later with half a lap remaining, albeit the flatter, faster section of the course that would suit him better.
Kwiatkowski hit 11w/kg on the climb as the gradient ramped up to 13 per cent, the gap falling further to just 18 seconds as Dennis tried to hang on up ahead.
Into the final 4km, one long road stood between Dennis and the finish line, pushing out 500w as he emptied the tank.
Sivakov, Van Baarle and Swift attacked behind, using their Zwift power-ups in their final thrust for victory, getting within 10 seconds of Dennis as Van Baarle kicked again.
Their efforts were in vain, though, as Dennis sailed across the finish line, having led from start to finish. Ben Swift made it a one-two for their ‘team four’ micro-squad as he came across in second, as Van Baarle finished third and Sivakov in fourth.
Ineos eClassic Zwift Race – Tour of Tewit Well (41.6km)
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Team Four, in 1-03-54
2. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Four, at 3.39 seconds
3. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Four, at 4.36s
4. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Three, at 6.41s
5. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Team Two, at 12.49s
6. Michał Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Two, at 13.3s
7. Carlos Rodriguez (Esp) Team Four, at 24.67s
8. Christian Knees (Ger) Team Five, at 35.81s
9. Michał Gołaś (Pol) Team One, at 38.23s
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Six, at 40.32s