Zwift to Host UCI Cycling Esports World Championships February 26, 2022

Zwift to Host UCI Cycling Esports World Championships February 26, 2022

Today the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has confirmed that Zwift will host the 2022 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships on February 26, 2022.

The races will take place on Zwift’s New York map over 2.5 laps of the Knickerbocker route and broadcast to a worldwide audience. Of course, there’s prize money on the line, plus the opportunity to wear the coveted virtual and real-life UCI Cycling Esports Rainbow Jersey!

But perhaps the most exciting news is a qualification pathway for Zwift community racers to take part in the big race. David Lappartient, UCI President, says it is, “exciting to reveal a new opportunity for emerging cycling esports stars, enabling them to compete with household names from the UCI WorldTour peloton.” Let’s dig into the details.

Automatic Invites

The UCI will be awarding automatic invites to 23 National Federations. “Places will be awarded based on a combination of Cycling Esports community size and the depth of talent based on both esports and UCI road rankings,” according to Zwift’s press release, which also says more detailed criteria will be released in due course.

How You Can Qualify

Of course, most Zwift racers aren’t in the position to be chosen for their national federation’s Esports Worlds team. And this became an issue back in 2020 when the first-ever Esports Worlds was hosted on Zwift. Some national federations didn’t do the best job of recruiting strong racers who were also experienced Zwifters and in fact, some top community racers complained that there was no way for them to get onto their country’s team.

We’re happy to see that all of that has changed for this second edition of Esports Worlds! Together the UCI and Zwift have designed five “Continental Qualifiers to UCI 2022 Cycling Esports World Championships” covering Oceana, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. These races will take place on November 27 (women) and November 28 (men), with the top 5 finishers from each race being added to their national squad and therefore awarded a place on the starting line of the 2022 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.

Regional Qualification Event   Women (Nov 27) Men (Nov 28) 
Oceania Qualifiers to UCI 2022 Cycling Esports World Championships5am UTC 5am UTC 
Asian Qualifiers to UCI 2022 Cycling Esports World Championships8am UTC 8am UTC 
European Qualifiers to UCI 2022 Cycling Esports World Championships11am UTC 11am UTC
African Qualifiers to UCI 2022 Cycling Esports World Championships2pm UTC 2pm UTC 
Pan American Qualifiers to UCI 2022 Cycling Esports World Championships5pm UTC 5pm UTC 

But not everyone can take part in the Continental Qualifier races! These are invitation-only as well. To receive a Continental Qualifier invite riders must meet one or both of the following criteria:

  • Be racing in Zwift Racing League Premier Division 2021/22 Season 1: all Premier Division riders will receive an automatic invite
  • Be a Level 5+ Zwifter who has been auto-categorized by WTRL as a Category A (or above) during the following events (riders must have taken part in at least 2 of these designated events to be eligible):
    • Zwift Racing League (ZRL) 2021/22 Season 1 Community Division (Oct – Nov 2021) – you can gain eligibility through all of the regular season races (Rounds 1 – 6) that take place in between October 12th and November 16th 2021. 
    • Continental Open event series – for any riders that are not currently competing in ZRL (or are only able to complete one event during ZRL), Zwift and WTRL are holding standalone Continental Open events for all time zones on the following dates; 
      • November 13
      • November 14
      • November 20
      • November 21

There are lots of details involved in qualifying for, and racing in, Esports Worlds 2022. These include trainer accuracy requirements, UCI Regulations, ZADA verification, and anti-doping measures. We highly recommend you read Zwift’s blog post for all the details of qualifying as a community racer.

Additionally, here is WTRL’s homepage for the pre-qualifers.

Esports Worlds Race Details

Racers will be taking on the Knickerbocker route, “a challenging parcours worthy of a UCI World Championship event.” This route features the rolling roads of NYC’s Central Park, as well as the futuristic glass road KOM.

NYC’s Knickerbocker route, 1 circuit

The rolling roads and steep KOM gradients will make for a selective race. Both Men’s and Women’s Elite fields will tackle two full circuits of the 22.5km route before finishing at the top of the New York KOM, a 1.4km climb with an average gradient of 6.1% and ramps of up to 17%.

In total, riders will cover 54.9km and 944m of climbing.

Like the inaugural 2020 Esports Worlds, the big race will include Zwift powerups, and participants will be competing entirely remotely from their own residences or training bases.

And of course, winners of both races will be awarded the UCI Cycling Esports Rainbow Jersey within Zwift. The winners will also receive physical jerseys which they will be able to wear in esports competitions for the following year.

2020 UCI Cycling Esports Rainbow Jersey

Parity

Prize monies will be equal for men and women. The number of racers should be equal as well, since the UCI and Zwift are formulating automatic invite criteria to ensure that “the maximum possible number of entries for both genders will be the same.”

More To Come

More details will be released in the coming months, including scheduling specifics. We will update this post with additional information as it becomes available.

Questions or Comments?

Share below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Claus Jensen
Claus Jensen
15 days ago

Even this has got the involvement of WTRL. It’s almost as if Zwift has dropped doing any form of racing support themselfes and just outsourced it all to WTRL – who hardly has the resources for the stuff, they are already running. Not sure I like this…

rdcyclist (Mark Crane)
rdcyclist (Mark Crane) (@rdcyclist)
15 days ago
Reply to  Claus Jensen

Yes, this is a less than optimal development. WTRL was completely unable to manage the Zwift Classic Autocat experiment resulting in many riders not having a competitive experience. I suppose this should be easier to manage but I’m wondering why Zwift can’t do this themselves.

Super C
Super C
15 days ago

This system is somewhat flawed, considering that probably the 5 African spots will be filled with 5 South African cyclists (if at all), while other continents with more stronger riders/nations have the same amount of spots…

Paul Rayner
Paul Rayner (@paulrayner)
15 days ago
Reply to  Super C

While it says “the top 5 finishers in each race,” I read it as meaning “the top 5 finishers from each country” or “in each race, the top 5 finishers from each country will be added to their national squad.”

Daniel Connelly
12 days ago

Moments in Zwift history: Lauren Stephens wins 3rd @ world championships by a bike length…. and then she doesn’t: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYNmq9cIRyA&t=3724s

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