Since March I have become obsessed with the weekly Team Time Trial… so I asked Eric if i could share my obsession with you all, in weekly doses.
Each week I will give you a profile of the upcoming route, guidance on bike choice, and some target times if you want to aim for the Premiere League (top-10 in each coffee class get to be in a special race televised on YouTube).
If you can’t ride (or even if you can ride, but want more action!) don’t forget to tune in to the live TV show on Zwift Community Live’s YouTube Channel at 6:15 (UK time).
Thursday 29th April – Watopia Flat Route
We’re back in Watopia this week, with three laps of Watopia Flat Route. This route is old, pre-dating my existence on Zwift since it launched in December 2015 (I didn’t find Zwift until autumn of 2017). In fact, it is the second-oldest Watopian route. We are lucky that ZwiftHQ has written a race recon. The race recon profiles focus on scratch race dynamics, not TTT, but it is a good read regardless.
Three laps at a touch over 10km each make this a 30 km race – the observant among you will know this is one lap less than last time we did this course. Each lap is pretty flat (the clue is in the name), and all-told we have 180 meters of vertical climb. This is all about formation and communication.
There are two tricky areas on the route – the ramp out of tunnels through the dirt and up the false flat is the first, and the hill through the Esses is the other. Keep communication clean and keep an eye on your teammates and you will sail through.
From the Pens you head towards the undersea tunnels (Ocean Boulevard) through the fishing village and up the winding false flat. Down the other side into the Italian Villas towards the sprint (don’t be tempted) and up the hill that precedes the Esses. Then it’s up and down the Esses, and down the hill to the start/finish. My fastest time through the course was the Team INEOS group ride in the spring, where I averaged 40kph.
What to ride?
Bike recommendation on this route is pretty straightforward. Aero rules the day. For me it’s Venge and Super-9 over Tron.
As I mentioned last week, the new Canyon Aeroad 2021 totally changed things for anyone between level 23 and 33. I don’t think there’s a lot of difference between the Aeroad and the Tron even.
Here are my recommendations at different levels:
- Level 6 Zwift Aero frame and DT Swiss ARC 62 wheels
- Level 13 Canyon Aeroad 2021 and Zipp 808s
- Level 18 Specialized Venge with Zipp 808s
- Level 25 Cervelo S5 with Zipp 808s
- Level 33 S-Works Venge with ENVE SES 8.9
- Level 35 S-Works Venge with Zipp 808/Super 9
- Level 45 get those 858/Super 9 wheels and pair them with the S-Works Venge
If you’re below level 35 and have a Tron, use it… it beats every other setup but the last two on this route hands down. I cannot stress highly enough that if you are racing you need to be working on Tron. It’ll take a while, but just set the Everest Challenge and forget about it for nine months… like having a baby.
If you prefer your recons in the visual style, take a look at my YouTube video. You can choose to watch the whole thing, or just pick and choose from these time codes:
- 0:40 Ride summary
- 1:45 Shoutouts and feedback
- 2:10 DS-Notes
- 2:30 Lap Walkthrough starts
- 6:00 Bike choices
- 6:40 Target times for each Coffee Class
- 7:46 DS Notes print-off sheet
Here’s my handy-dandy DS summary for you to print off and put by your trainer if you so desire!
Regardless of how the official Zwift race-recon breaks the route up, I only see three sections:
- Pen/Gate to the end of the undersea tunnels
- To the Italian Villas
- Esses through to the start/finish
Start to the end of the undersea tunnels
A flat 3.2 km from the start/finish gate to the start of the ramp. Around the same if you’re on lap 1 from the pens. You’ll pick up speed as you go into the tunnels. That is really all there is to say here.
Col Du Italian Villas
This starts with the ramp out of the tunnels (300 meters at 3%), onto the dirt roads around the fishing village and up the false flat. The kicker at the end of the false flat will be barely noticeable at speed. It’s 3.6m in total from the the ramp to the Italian Villas.
Esses and home
Through the tunnel and through the sprint. Cross the bridge and into the only real climb of the loop – 300m at an average of 5%. This one will take some care if you are all on the rivet because your smaller, lighter riders will shoot ahead if they aren’t careful. After that it’s the Esses.
The Esses are a series of humps. If you’re coordinated you’ll accelerate on the downhill and let the momentum carry you up the next. If you’re not coordinated the momentum delta between heavier and lighter riders will split you apart!
After the Esses its downhill to downtown. Don’t forget to sprint on the last lap!
This race is all about decision-making. You will be flat out on the flat, and the hills will strain the team… people will get dropped. The question is do you wait for them, or do you drop them?