Zwift and UCI to host inaugural E-Sports World Championships in 2020

The first ever World Championships promise complete parity between men and women

Online cycling platform Zwift and governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) have agreed terms to host the first ever UCI Cycling E-Sports World Championships in 2020.

The partnership will see the implementation of a new UCI rulebook for Cycling E-Sports in the coming year.

Zwift has stated that the competition will be equal for men and women - with both sexes completing the same number of races, over the same distances, with equal prize money and coverage.

This demand for equality sets a refreshing tone when viewed alongside the announcement of the Swiss world championships routes, where women will race over 123 kilometres to the men's 244km road race, riding a 34km time trial vs the 46km elite men's event.

Prize money between elite men and elite women is equal at the world championships, with the now removed trade team time trial being the last event to achieve parity in 2016.

“The beauty of creating a new cycling discipline is that we have a blank slate and no limitations. We will set the standard for fair play and equality,” said Craig Edmondson, CEO of Zwift e-sports.

The event will take place just one year after the inaugural National e-racing championships, won by Rosamund Bradbury and Cameron Jeffers in Great Britain.

Zwift has created online versions of the UCI Road World Championships for several consecutive editions, with users on the interactive platform logging over 2 million miles on World Champs roads.

“We have been looking at the emergence of e-sports for some time with Zwift,” Says David Lappartient, President of the UCI.

“As the governing body for the sport, we need to remain open to technical innovations and change, and to remain relevant to all audiences. Zwift is a platform that is enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. However, there is a particularly exciting opportunity through esports as we look to attract a younger audience to cycling.

"Together we have an opportunity to support a fitter youth, through the creation of a new sustainable sport.”

Zwift's KISS Super League was the first e-sport series to feature professional athletes.

“Earlier this year, we marked our ambition to develop an esports platform, but I think it’s much more than that. We are looking to establish a new cycling discipline.” adds Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder.

“This partnership is a significant leap in that journey as we move further towards our ambition of delivering competition at the highest level in sport. We are at the very beginning of a long and exciting road here at Zwift as we look to establish a new and innovative discipline for cycling.”

In April this year, Canyon launched the first ever professional e-racing team: Canyon ZCC, noting the lower cost of running the team as a major factor in making the endeavour possible.

“Racing on Zwift is still in its infancy, but compared to the cost of running a traditional cycling team, starting Canyon ZCC was a no-brainer of an opportunity," said Rhys Howell, Canyon ZCC Team Manager.

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.

Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.