The indoor cycling revolution is entering its latest phase as Zwift launches the first e-racing league for pro riders.
Zwift’s Kiss Super League, which launches on Wednesday (January 23), brings together second and third tier riders from across the world in an online race series.
There will be 15 teams invited to race in the inaugural series, including Cofidis, Team Wiggins – Le Col, Israel Cycling Academy and Hagens Berman Axeon.
In the women’s contest, Canyon – SRAM and Cervelo – Bigla will be amongst the teams competing.
Zwift CEO Eric Min said: “Our goal is to create a new sport within a sport, celebrated by pro cyclists, amateur cyclists and cycling fans all over the world.
“Pro cycling has embraced Zwift as a training platform and Zwift has proven itself as a talent ID platform for pro cycling.
“Now is the time to push on with e-sports and in doing so build value for pro cycling.”
Round one of the Super League will be held at the Pinarello store in central London on Wednesday evening, where Team Wiggins will race.
Team boss and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins will attending to support his team in their first indoor race.
Wiggins said: “I’m well known for being a student of the sport.
“The history of cycling is very special to me but this doesn’t mean things should not change.
“BMX bikes came out of nowhere to become the ‘must have’ thing when I was a kid in the 80s. Now it’s an Olympic discipline.
“This story of cycling is ever evolving and as a parent I want to see our sport provide accessibility and inspiration for young people.
“If a computer game can get kids off the sofa and onto a bike to workout and compete, then I’m a supporter.”
There will be four Pro Continental and nine Continental teams competing in the men’s league, as well as two teams from the Zwift community.
There will also be a women’s Kiss Super League, due to start in February, with six pro teams and two Zwift teams.
On the women’s contest, Zwift Academy winner and now Canyon – Sram rider Tanja Erath said: “It’s a great opportunity for women’s cycling.
“I do feel the pressure slightly, as there will be eyes on me.
“This will be my second year as a professional cyclist, so I know how to race well in a team.
“I have a lot of experience on Zwift, so now I get to share my experience with the team rather than the other way around.”
Zwift is hoping to inspire a generation of younger cyclists and a wider audience by “gamifying” bike racing.
Craig Edmondson, the former head of marketing for the Premier League who now leads Zwift’s e-sport business said: “Our role is to deliver something brand-new to cycling.
“By gamifying racing, we will create entertaining coverage and introduce an added dimension to bike racing.
“Team-based competition, power ups, course ‘know how’ and the differences in racing physics makes Zwift a new battleground for competition.
“Watts per kilogram is only one of many key factors.”
A community-focused Kiss League will also be launched for amateur competitors alongside the pro ranks.
Round one of the Kiss Super League will be broadcast live on the Zwift Facebook page from 6.30pm on Wednesday evening.
Teams competing in the KISS Super League
Hagens Berman Aexeon
Israel Cycling Academy
Dimension Data U23
Canyon – dhb p/b Bloor Homes
Team Wiggins – Le Col
Arapahoe – Hincapie p/b BMC
Oliver’s Real Food Racing
SEG Racing Academy
Pro Racing Sunshine Coast
Ribble Pro Cycling
Zwift Community All Stars
Zwift Academy Dream Team
Canyon – SRAM
Doltcini – Van Eyck
Hagens Berman Supermint
Cervelo – Bigla
Zwift All Stars
Zwift Academy Dream Team