UCI reboots Zwift World Championships with punchy hills, elimination races and live streaming

2023 championships to consist of three key events: The Punch, The Climb and The Podium

(Image credit: Zwift)

The UCI and Zwift have unveiled a radical overhaul of the format (opens in new tab) for the e-sports World Championships, which are due to be held on 18 February next year. 

Previous e-sports World Championships have consisted of a single race for glory but now three main events over three separate course now make up the competition with riders falling out of contention at every stage.

Organisers expect the racing to be short and explosive.

Events will be the same in both the male and female categories and the two fields will consist of 100 riders who have all now qualified for the championships. 

The Punch, will see the 100 riders start a short 13.8 kilometre race on rolling, punchy terrain.

This first event will be crucial to the rest of the championships, as only the top 30 riders will then qualify for the next race. Any riders finishing outside the top 30 will then be eliminated from racing. 

Part two of the championships will see the remaining riders start The Climb. This is  another short race consisting of several hill repetitions - 8.5 kilometres in length with 162 metres of elevation gain. Only the top 10 riders in each category will then progress to The Podium. 

The Podium will take place on the last of the three new circuits containing short, challenging climbs, and will see riders fighting for position, as one rider is eliminated through each archway until three riders remain. These riders will then battle it out to the finish in a bid to win the title of UCI World Champion.

The continental qualifiers for the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships will take place this weekend on Zwift.

These qualifying events will see the men's and women's peloton compete for the 25 qualifying places for each gender to represent their country at the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.

Last year, Loes Adegeest earned a place on the Dutch national team through the continental qualifiers. She then pulled off a surprise win at the 2022 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships after dropping reigning UCI World Champion Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (RSA) on the steep final climb.

All of the qualifying races take place this weekend and will be shown live on Zwift’s YouTube channel (opens in new tab)

On the design of the upcoming championships, UCI President David Lappartient said: “The new format for the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships is in line with our desire to continue innovating and increasing the appeal of our sport.

"Our first two UCI World Championships for cycling esports were a great success, and now we have increased the excitement with three separate events that will gradually eliminate members of the peloton”.

Zwift CEO Eric Min said that he hopes the championships will help uncover more global cycling talent. 

“Together with the UCI, we’re thrilled to continue our innovation in cycling esports with this new multi-event format. Both riders and spectators will have an opportunity to experience this new format this weekend with the UCI Continental Qualification races. The racing is going to be fast-paced and tactical. I hope that we may once again unearth some hidden talent here,” he said. 

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