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Germany’s Jason Osborne stormed to victory in the men’s race at the inaugural Esports World Championships on Wednesday, surging clear on the Zwift KOM finishing climb.
The 26-year-old followed a move by compatriot Jonas Rapp and then soloed away in the last few hundred meters. He hit the line 1.74 seconds ahead of Denmark’s Anders Foldager, with Denmark’s Nicklas Pedersen rounding out the podium in third on the day.
“It was a completely new experience for me. I’ve raced some Zwift races before but obviously this is a much bigger event now,” said the new Esports world champ, who also happens to be an Olympian in rowing. “The field was very tough. Top guys. I just tried to keep calm and keep with the pack and don’t waste too much, and then left it all for the finish.”
The race indeed came down to the finale as no big moves out of the peloton managed to stick over the first 49 kilometers of racing on Watopia’s Figure Eight Reverse course, despite a pair of brief forays off the front by Team Canada as well as some activity from Belgium’s Julien Van Den Brande and Victor Campenaerts.
A somewhat whittled down peloton hit the final climb together before the German team put its strength on display, with Rapp first getting clear inside the last kilometer. A few seconds later, Osborne moved up to his compatriot and then pressed on alone, and no one came particularly close to catching him.
He activated an aero power-up in the last few hundred meters to keep the pressure on and rolled across the line solo for the convincing victory, with the Danish duo of Foldager and Pedersen following him over the line to nab spots on the virtual podium.