- UCI World Championships Scotland map
- Personalized Leaderboards
- HoloReplay Updates
- Zwift ‘For You’
- Discord Chat Integration for Clubs
- Sub 30-Minute Workouts
- Join A Zwifter
- UCI Cycling Esports World Championships
- Z Fondo Series
- Rapha Festive 500
- Tour de Zwift
- Zwift Racing League Round Three and Championships
- Scotland recon
- Tour of Watopia
Zwift has unveiled its plans for the first three months of 2023, launching new features and content including a brand new Scotland map in advance of the Esports World Championships, which it will host in a brand new three-race format (opens in new tab).
In an arrangement that’s also the first of its kind, Glasgow will host both the physical and virtual UCI Worlds - and Zwifters will be able to recon the new courses in January ahead of the virtual Worlds in February.
Elsewhere, according to Mark Cote, Zwift (opens in new tab)’s vice president of content, new features are aimed at helping people come together in the virtual world, while others are designed to make Zwift easier to use.
And new content includes a collaboration with Rapha on the Festive 500 (opens in new tab) alongside the return of favourites such as Tour de Zwift, Zwift Racing League and Tour of Watopia.
Let’s dive straight in and have a look at what’s new.
UCI World Championships Scotland map
Glasgow will be the host of both the physical and virtual World Championships in 2023. Zwift’s Scotland map is launching this January, with the Esports World Championships taking place in February, while the physical UCI Worlds in Glasgow (opens in new tab) are in August.
The Scotland map is designed for the three separate races that will make up the Esports Worlds, and Zwift says this is its first map “designed to optimise racing and fast riding.”
Zwift's Chris Snook told Cycling Weekly: "The Scotland map is unique in that it is the first map we have designed specifically for competition format, in this instance the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships. Unlike previous maps with UCI connections, we haven't taken the road course and replicated it in Zwift. Instead we have built a course specifically for the needs of racing on Zwift, and taken inspiration from Scotland and Glasgow to 'decorate' it."
The map itself will be split into different biomes (zones), each of which offers a different type of racing experience and which are based on the three races that will make up the 2023 Esports Worlds. There will be a short 3km circuit with a punchy kicker, a hill-climb, and a dedicated time trial course.
Zwift promises scenery inspired by the bucolic Scottish landscape, the city of Glasgow, and the surrounding areas, and says that as you ride through the map you’ll see famous landmarks and attractions from the country, including castles and cityscapes.
The Scotland map will be available only for events when it launches in January, and will open for free-riding in mid-March.
Full details of the map are to be revealed slightly nearer the time.
An update to the Zwift Companion app will allow Zwifters to see and analyse their times on Zwift segments, as with Strava (opens in new tab)in the real world. Personalized Leaderboards will display previously recorded times for every Zwift segment and route dating back to the beginning of the user’s time on Zwift.
Zwifters will also be able to further filter their leaderboard by season (January-March, April-June, July-September, October-December), allowing them to track current progress or benchmark their fitness against a previous season.
In the future, Zwift says, Personalized Leaderboards will let you compare and analyse other Zwift data but at this stage there’s no more detail than that.
This is coming in February.
Since its launch, says Zwift, HoloReplays have quickly become one of its users’ favourite features.
It’s now adding more functionality to HoloReplay, letting Zwifters ride against their replays on entire routes as well as segments.
As before, Zwifters can replay their 90-day PR, last effort, both at the same time, or the replay can be turned off.
However, Zwift will continue to record all of your segment times recorded in any ride or race, except group workouts, meetups, or any other activity where rubberbanding is enabled.
Zwift says this is coming in late January.
Zwift ‘For You’
The new “For You” carousel is the next evolution of Zwift’s home screen, designed to make it easier for Zwifters to find their preferred content, including group rides, other Zwifters they may want to ride with and on-demand workouts. Zwift recommends content based on recent rides, events you’ve signed up for, and Pacer Groups rides you’ve participated in.
It will also include the recently revived/improved Join a Zwifter feature, which lets you ride with friends, pros and celebrities.
The For You carousel will be gradually rolled out starting in early 2023.
Discord Chat Integration for Clubs
Discord is the most popular third-party platform for voice and messaging on Zwift - and coordinating team tactics - and this update is aimed at making it easy to connect with other Zwifters via Discord.
Clubs will now “seamlessly” be able integrate Discord links into their profile on the Zwift Companion app to make it easier for members to find and join a Discord group while riding.
This is live already.
Sub 30-Minute Workouts
To cater more fully for for time-crunched riders and the growing number of beginner and recreational cyclists on Zwift, there are now 10 new sub-30 minute workouts, doubling the number in that collection.
These include the evocatively named Wild Iris, Brisk Burn and Calorie Crush, joining old favourites such as Jon’s Short Mix and Wave Rider.
Join A Zwifter
Back by popular demand, according to Zwift, Join a Zwifter lets you ride or run with people you follow on Zwift, pro athletes, or celebrities.
Join a Zwifter can be found on the homescreen, and it will be in the For You carousel, when that rolls out.
In its new iteration, Join a Zwifter will show you the average speed of people in your Join a Zwifter screen, as well as their elapsed ride or run time, so that you don’t join someone chasing a HoloReplay who may not want - or be able to - chat, or someone just finishing a ride.
UCI Cycling Esports World Championships
As for Zwift's new content, it's the Esports World Championships that headline.
For these, which take place in February 2023, Zwift has created a new map inspired by Glasgow, where the physical Worlds will be held in August. It says the map is the first to be designed specifically for a UCI Cycling Esports World Championship event (rather than exactly replicating the actual roads, Harrogate style) and was created to support a new format of racing due to debut at the event, The Zwift Battle Royale.
The Esports World Championships events will include three races, each taking place on a course specifically built for that stage of racing. The first stage, The Punch, will send racers out on a rolling circuit that will provide an immediate test of fitness, strategy, and Zwiftcraft. Out of 100 starters in both the women’s and men’s races, only the top 30 stage one finishers will advance to stage two.
The second stage, The Climb, is a climber’s race that will repeatedly send the remaining field up steep grades – 161 metres of climbing in 8.6 kilometres. Only the top 10 finishers on this stage will advance to the third and final stage.
Stage three, The Podium, is a track-style elimination race contested on a crit circuit in virtual Glasgow.
Once the field has been whittled down to the last three riders, there will be a sprint for world champions’ stripes.
The national teams lining up to race the Esports Worlds include both riders selected by federations and top finishers at the continental qualifier races held in November. Unique to World Championship racing, says Zwift, any Zwifter had a chance to earn a place at the Worlds through these qualifiers.
According to Zwift, this will be the most exciting racing it has ever seen.
Z Fondo Series
Running from December-April, the Zwift Fondo Series includes three endurance challenges: Gran, Medio, and Bambino lengths.
Each of the fondo weekends offers three distance options: an A group that will cover 90 kilometres, a B group that covers 70 kilometres, and a C group that covers 50 kilometres. Everyone can pick their distance and then connect with other riders on the roads of Zwift.
Fondo weekends will take place the first weekend of each month, starting December 2, 2022, and ending in April 2023.
Rapha Festive 500
From December 24-31, the Rapha Festive 500 challenges riders to pedal 500 kilometres between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Zwift is hosting some Festive 500 rides, but reminds you to make sure you register for the Festive 500 on Strava to track your Zwift and real-world miles.
Complete any Festive 500 rides on Zwift, led by a Rapha ambassador or a PacerBot, and you can unlock a unique in-game Festive 500 kit.
Tour de Zwift
From January 9 to February 12 the Tour de Zwift gives all riders the chance to explore eight of Zwift’s worlds over eight stages. Participants unlock new route badges, earn an in-game kit, and can buy a real-world kit made by Pedal Mafia, to match your avatar.
Zwift Racing League Round Three and Championships
For ZRL, form a team and then compete in six races – four points races and two TTTs. Courses include all of Zwift’s most popular worlds.
The third and final round of ZRL starts on January 10 and top teams will be invited to the ZRL finals in early March.
Before the championship racing starts, there will be ZRacing events and route recon rides joined by pros on the new Scotland map. These events will give you the chance to recon the new 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championship courses and check out Zwift’s virtual Scottish scenery.
Tour of Watopia
According to Zwift, the Tour of Watopia, starting in March, levels you up faster, whether it’s your in-game level or your fitness level.
As well as boosting your fitness you can unlock new gear and if you finish all five stages, you’ll unlock the in-game 2023 Tour of Watopia kit.
For more information and all the details and dates, check out Zwift’s website.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
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