There’s much to discuss including bike choice, strategic options, and crucial segments. Let’s go!
Looking at the Route: Innsbruckring
Each lap of Innsbruckring is 8.8 km (5.5 miles), and all teams will race 3 laps (26.6km, 231m elevation).
Innsbruckring is popular for races and thus well-known to most Zwift racers. While the route profile may look quite lumpy, in reality it’s quite flat and uneventful for most of the lap. Especially in a scratch race, where only your finish position matters, the Leg Snapper climb will be the key selection point on each lap:
The Leg Snapper KOM begins when you cross the short bridge and the road tilts sharply upward around 5km into your first lap. At 430 meters long with a steady average gradient of 6.9%, this climb will force a selection each and every lap! Be prepared for an all-out 45 to 75-second effort to stay in touch.
Keep hammering over the top of the Leg Snapper to get back up to speed, then you can recover a bit on the descent and even through the sprint if you’re in the front pack, as riders won’t be pushing as hard since this is a scratch race.
The pack will be strung out and gaps will have formed thanks to the Leg Snapper. This is where riders are faced with a decision. If you’re in the front group, do you keep pushing to hold the gap? If you’re in a chase group, do you try to bridge up? Typically in scratch races on Innsbruckring a group of riders is dropped over the Leg Snapper, then rejoins the front pack a few minutes later after the front pack eases.
Wash, rinse, repeat each lap. Until the last lap, that is! This is when the front pack keeps the pressure on, and the dropped riders stay gapped.
The finish always feels like a drawn-out sprint. Riders often try to go long, but are unable to hold it. Patience is crucial here, and you’ll want to maximize the use of whatever powerup you’ve got (see notes below). Holding an aero powerup will be crucial for the finish!
Every rider will receive a powerup at each arch, and there are three arches per lap (start/finish arch, Leg Snapper KOM arch, and sprint arch). That means all riders will receive up to nine powerups in this race.
Aero Boost (helmet): makes you more aerodynamic (reduces your CdA by 25%) for 15 seconds. Use at higher speeds (flats and descents), especially when no draft is available (although it is still useful when drafting.) This is the powerup you want to be holding going into the finish.
Lightweight (feather): reduces your weight by 10% for 30 seconds.
Use on climbs, when weight matters the most. This is a handy powerup for the Leg Snapper, and it’s long enough to last for the majority of the climb.
Cloaking (ghost): makes you invisible to other riders for 15 seconds. Use when you want to get away from one or more riders. Deploy then hammer, in hopes that you will create enough of a gap that your opponents can’t grab your wheel. Keep in mind this powerup is disabled within 400m of the finish line, so it’s useless at the very end of your race!
Bike Frame + Wheel Choice
This is a mostly-flat route, and the Leg Snapper is short enough that speeds remain high (30 kph + for B and A riders), so a climbing rig won’t outperform an aero machine.
Go with the most aero bike you’ve got. Need help figuring out what that is? Read Fastest Bike Frames and Wheels at Each Zwift Level.
More Route Recons
Many recon rides are now being planned each week on the upcoming ZRL route. If you’re unfamiliar with this course, jump into an event and do some recon! Here’s a list of upcoming Innsbruckring events.
How will these races unfold, and what strategies will riders employ in the fourth race of round 3? Here’s what we predict:
- Aero hoarding: riders wanting to be in contention in the final sprint will want to hold onto their aero powerups. The question is, if you get an aero powerup early in the race, do you use it and hope for another?
- Close the gap: In typical Zwift races, the pack is broken up over the Leg Snapper + Sprint, but chase groups will often rejoin the front group in the “uneventful” 6.8km that follows. We predict that happening on laps 1 and 2.
- Four hard kilometers: lighter riders who don’t fancy their chances in a pack sprint may want to attack on the final Leg Snapper, then try to stay away to the finish. The ensuing chase will make the final 4km of the race difficult for everyone.
Any insights or further thoughts on this race? Share below!