We’d heard talk of it for more than a year, and now the inaugural 2020 UCI Cycling eSports World Championships are set to take place next month. The international cycling body tapped virtual ride platform Zwift to host e-Worlds in their online Watopia environment, with Garmin-Tacx stepping up to supply all of the connected trainer for with elite men and women to race each other virtually on December 9.
2020 UCI Cycling eSports World Champs in Watopia
Bringing Tacx’s parent Garmin on board as an official sponsor means that even though riders will be competing virtually, they all will be supplied with the same Tacx NEO 2T Smart trainer. With all competitors on the same equipment, the UCI hopes to ensure a level playing field within Zwift’s Watopia race course. Other corporate sponsors like Shimano, Science in Sport & Toyota South Africa Motors are helping to make eSport Worlds commercially viable, but won’t have a direct impact on the riders as much as Garmin will.
Zwift however is understandably psyched that their popular online training platform will form the base for the first official virtual world championships. Zwift CEO & Co-Founder Eric Min says he’s “delighted to welcome the official partners of the inaugural UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, and eagerly await to discover who will emerge victorious and take home those iconic rainbow bands.”
The elite races of the inaugural 2020 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships will take place Dec 9, 2020 in Zwift’s Watopia Figure 8 Reverse Course, with a finish on their KOM Forward climb. Both men & women will compete virtually on the same 50km course, with 483m of total climbing. The winners ride away with a brand-new set of rainbow jerseys, in a new eSports-specific design that the UCI is set to reveal soon.
Riders have been competing online in qualifying events over the last year, so it race invites are being finalized now. The UCI uses similar allocation of invitations to National Federations, much like they do in regular meatspace Worlds competition, based on competitors active on Zwift. Final rider start lists will also be announced in the coming weeks.