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Late last year the UCI and Zwift announced that a virtual racing world championships would be held in 2020. Today, the two organisations revealed more detail, not least that the competition will be held on December 8-9, 2020.
“It’s with great pleasure that we are able to confirm the dates and plans for the first UCI Cycling Esports World Championships,” said UCI president David Lappartient. “The year has certainly been a challenging one for all, but we are now back to enjoying racing and have a new UCI World Championships to look forward to at the end of 2020.
“Virtual races were hugely popular during the period that competitions ceased, and I truly believe in the potential of esports to help grow participation in our sport. This is a historic moment.”
While the race routes are yet to be announced, a joint press release confirmed that “the competition will take place entirely within Zwift’s Watopia world” and that women’s and men’s races will take place “on identical courses with equal distances.” The recent Virtual Tour de France featured the same courses and distances for men’s and women’s races as well.
Race winners will receive a virtual rainbow jersey to wear while riding Zwift, as well as a real-world jersey to wear during esports competitions for the following year.
“2020 has been a big year for esports as it has helped fill the gap left by traditional sport,” said Zwift CEO and co-founder Eric Min. “We look forward to establishing this as a new discipline of the sport – not one to plug gaps, but one that’s truly complementary to other disciplines, whether that be road, cyclocross or mountain bike. There’s a huge opportunity to grow the sport with esports and I’m proud that together with the UCI, we are able to lead the way.”
As with the UCI Road World Championships, national federations will be allocated a certain number of places for the Esports World Championships, “determined by certain criteria including the UCI Road Rankings (as of June 2020), the number of riders in the anti-doping Registered Testing Pool, and a minimum experience level on the Zwift platform.”
On the men’s side, 20 national federations will get an automatic invite to register a team: Italy, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Australia, Spain, USA, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark, Poland, Austria, Colombia, New Zealand, South Africa, Norway, Ireland, and Japan. On the women’s side, 13 nations will be automatically invited: the Netherlands, Italy, Australia, France, USA, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Poland, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and Japan. In addition, “wildcard invitations may be awarded to individual riders by the UCI.”
Further details about the 2020 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships will be revealed in the coming months, including the specific courses that will be used.