Saturday morning, March 24, 2018: Monica and I arrive at the Stubhub VELO Sports Center in Los Angeles excited about what the day will bring. This is day 1 of the CVR World Cup event, and we’re stoked about the opportunity to finally meet some of the riders and community leaders who we’ve only interacted with virtually.

The venue is perfect: we’re set up on a velodrome infield, with plenty of space for our event and the added excitement of track racers constantly orbiting us. Ten of CVR’s Zwift race stations are set up end to end, with one line of five facing the other set of five like some sort of head to head virtual paceline battle.

The CVR team is ready to go in the tech area which swarms with computers managing event data and video streams, the news booth is ready for the weekend’s broadcasts, and it’s time to start the first qualifying heat.

How The Heats Work

There are a total of 40 riders here this weekend: 20 men and 20 women. Today’s heats will decide who is qualified to race in tomorrow’s Elite finals. The Elite bracket is the top set of racers, and they will receive the largest prizes, so everyone is gunning to make the cut. Those who do not make the cut will race in the Performance bracket.

There will be 4 heats raced today: every racer gets only 1 race to qualify. If you finish in the top 4 of your heat, you’re in the Elite finals. Once those 8 riders are chosen, the remaining 2 riders with the fastest times will also advance, for a total of 10 in the Elite finals for each gender. The other 10 will race in the Performance finals.

The heats are raced on three laps of the Watopia Hilly route.

Click a heat below to see start lists, race videos, results and more:

Women's Heat 1

The weekend’s first race includes Alison Kubota, an online buddy of ours who we’re happy to finally meet and support here in the real world.

Here are the riders from heat 1:

  • Carey Conabeare
  • Laura Conway
  • Catherine Fortier
  • Inge Jansen
  • Alison Kubota
  • Esther Meisels
  • Athena Padouvas
  • Katie Pothier
  • Ingelin Rod
  • Jessica York

The first climb breaks the group up quickly, with a lead group of 6 forming which includes Conabeare, Fortier, Jansen, Kubota, Meisels and Pothier. After the second lap KOM that lead group is down to 4 when Pothier and Fortier are dropped. The lead group knows they only needed to work together and stay away from the other riders in order to advance to the finals, but the remaining 6 riders know their qualification is on the line, so they push hard!

On the last climb into the Esses Kubota attacks and only Meisels follows. The two team Vixen ladies (Conabeare and Jansen) wisely take it easy and finish together, knowing they have qualified. Meisels goes on to win the finishing sprint.

Behind the lead 4, Pothier is all by herself, with Fortier and Padouvas working together over a minute behind. In the third lap Pothier continues her strong TT effort to finish 5th, while Padouvas drops Fortier and solos to finish 6th.

Women’s Heat 1 Finishing Order:

  • Esther Meisels
  • Alison Kubota
  • Carey Conabeare
  • Inge Jansen
  • Katie Pothier
  • Athena Padouvas
  • Catherine Fortier
  • Ingelin Rod
  • Laura Conway
  • Jessica York

Katie Pothier gave a huge effort, and in fact had to be attended to by the medical staff on location due to what may have been low blood sugar or dehydration. She and Padouvas would have to wait to find out if they made the time cut for the next day’s Elite finals.

Pothier attended to by the medical staff.

Watch the entire race broadcast:

Men's Heat 1

Here are the riders from heat 1:

  • Gavin Arber
  • Soren Bay
  • Mathieu Drujon
  • Frank Levick
  • Dan Netzer
  • Tim Norris
  • Motti Pikelny
  • Casey Schumm
  • Eric Sorenson
  • Stefan Stefanov

The pack breaks up on the first climb with Schumm, Bay, Drujon, Netzer, Arber, and Sorenson staying together on the front. This group of 6 stays away together for the entire race, with Eric Sorenson pulling off a long final attack to win by 4 seconds.

Men’s Heat 1 Finishing Order:

  • Eric Sorenson
  • Mathieu Drujon
  • Casey Schumm
  • Dan Netzer
  • Soren Bay
  • Gavin Arber
  • Tim Norris
  • Motti Pikelny
  • Stefan Stefanov
  • Frank Levick

Bay and Arber have to wait for the second heat’s results to see if they qualify for the Elite finals. Since they stayed with the front group for the entire race they know they have a good chance of turning in a qualifying time.

Watch the entire race broadcast:

 

Women's Heat 2

Here are the riders from heat 2:

  • Mila Allinson
  • Claudia Behring
  • Holly Gabel
  • Emily Joyner
  • Julie McKenzie
  • Lauren McMurtry
  • Cheryl Muldoon
  • Jennifer Real
  • Liz Rice
  • Beth York

On the first climb 4 riders break off from the pack: Real, Behring, Joyner and York. York nearly gets dropped on the climb, but digs deep and fights back to the pack, knowing staying with this front group means qualifying for the Elite finals tomorrow. On the final lap KOM Behring goes off the front and will stay away for the rest of the lap, easily winning by 27 seconds. Real, Joyner and York finish behind her, qualifying for the Elite race.

From Women’s Heat 1 Pothier and Padouvas are rewarded for their hard solo efforts, qualifying as the final two for the next day’s Elite race based on their times.

Cheryl Muldoon wins the “true grit’ award for this race. She had crashed the weekend before at the outdoor CVR training camp and has massive bruising on her right leg. Her efforts in this race hurt that leg so much Cheryl can’t even walk on her leg afterwards. These racers are keeping the medics busy!

Women’s Heat 2 Finishing Order:

  • Claudia Behring
  • Jennifer Real
  • Beth York
  • Emily Joyner
  • Lauren McMurtry
  • Holly Gabel
  • Liz Rice
  • Cheryl Muldoon
  • Julie McKenzie
  • Mila Allinson

Watch the entire race broadcast:

Men's Heat 2

Here are the riders from heat 2:

  • Greg Ambroisine
  • Mike Davis
  • Matthew Gardiner
  • Sadao Ikebe
  • Kim Little
  • Ryan Goldenberg
  • Bill Gros
  • Lionel Sanders
  • CJ Tully
  • Adam Zimmerman

The pack breaks up on the first climb with Gardiner, Sanders and Zimmerman going off the front. Little, a strong racer, is surprisingly dropped, and must now TT to stay away from those chasing behind him so he can secure that 4th place finish. Ikebe and Davis are just a few seconds behind him, chasing for that coveted spot.

Lionel Sanders shows his massive TT power, staying in front of the lead pack for much of the race. Gardiner and Zimmerman know their only chance is to stay on his wheel for the sprint finish, so they wisely follow his every attack.

Ikebe eventually catches Little in lap 2, but Little then rides away from him to keep his 4th spot safe. In the finish Matthew Gardiner (“the fastest accountant on Zwift”) jumps on the climb into the Esses (taking a cue from Sorenson in heat 1) to take the win with a long break, with Zimmerman outsprinting Sanders for 2nd place.

Men’s Heat 2 Finishing Order:

  • Matthew Gardiner
  • Adam Zimmerman
  • Lionel Sanders
  • Kim Little
  • Sadao Ikebe
  • Mike Davis
  • Greg Ambroisine
  • CJ Tully
  • Ryan Goldenberg
  • Bill Gros

Watch the entire race broadcast:

Watch Lionel Sanders’ personal video for the race:

 

Zwift Fix Needed

I noticed one annoyance today: non CVR racers could actually join the Zwift event and affect the race! Since these events were set up as official Zwift events, anyone could join them. The event description asked riders NOT to join, but nearly every race this weekend would have non CVR riders participating, and that’s no good at all when so much is on the line. Zwift and CVR need to work together to roll out some sort of “private event” feature so CVR can control who participates.

Fantasy Teams Are Set

I’m happy to see that my cycleFANTASY team picks did decently well, moving on to the races I selected for the next day. We’ll see if my racers finish well and give me a shot at a cash prize.

The Big Race Is Next

The next day’s racing begins early with the Men’s Performance Bracket at 8:10AM. I’m wondering if the two ladies who needed medical attention (Pothier and Muldoon) will even be able to race tomorrow–they both were pretty messed up after their race! Hope they’re able to rest up and put in efforts they can be happy with tomorrow.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post about the big race day…