Race 3 of Zwift Racing League Season 2 is upon us, and it’s one for the climbers as we finish atop the Innsbruck KOM – the longest climb in Zwift Racing League history!
Let’s dig into the course, including some tips for bike choice and key selection areas.
Looking At the Route: Innsbruck KOM After Party
This route is best viewed in two parts:
- Innsbruckring (3 laps)
- Innsbruck KOM
We begin with three laps of the popular Innsbruckring loop. This 8.8km “mostly flat” loop winds its way from the start line through the city for 4.7km before arriving at the infamous Leg Snapper. This straight uphill shot is 430 meters long at 6.9%, and you can plan for a full-gas 1-minute effort every time.
Cresting the Leg Snapper, you being a descent which brings you to the start of the sprint section, where First-Across-Line and Fastest-Timed-Segment intermediate points are available, 10 deep.
Apart from the Leg Snapper climb and the descent immediately following, the Innsbrucking loop is basically a series of false flats, so just mind your position in the peloton.
After three laps of Innsbruckring (30-40 minutes of racing for most groups), we head out of town to take on the final feature of this route: the mighty Innsbruck KOM.
This climb is comparable to Watopia’s Epic KOM Reverse, but even more steady, holding close to 5.5% for most of its 7.4km length. Top racers can finish the climb in around 15 minutes, while mere mortals should expect a time of 25-30 minutes or more. It’s essentially a 20-minute FTP test tacked onto the end of a race!
The last section of the climb levels out to nearly flat ground, which should make for an interesting finish as the advantage shifts from w/kg to pure watts in the final ~500 meters.
Bike Frame + Wheel Choices
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the best bike for this route. And guess what? There’s no easy answer. This course has two distinct sections, and your bike choice really depends on your race plan in those sections.
Sprinters looking to drop climbers and get those sprint intermediate points may want to go with the most aero setup possible – but that seems a bit extreme given the key climbs on this route. We would recommend the Tron bike for anyone focusing on pre-KOM performance, since it will climb the Leg Snapper just a bit better than the disc wheel setups, without losing much in terms of flat-out speed.
Looking for a bike that climbs as fast as possible? Check out Fastest Climbing Bike Frames and Wheels at Each Zwift Level, although, given the 3 laps of Innsbruckring heading into the KOM, we wouldn’t recommend a pure climbing setup. Looking at the Tron Bike vs Top Performers chart the Canyon Aeroad 2021 + DT Swiss wheels or Tarmac Pro + ENVE 7.8 wheels are probably the two best setups that outclimb the Tron. But those setups lose a lot more on the flats than they will gain on the climb, so be sure you count the cost.
In summary: we’ll be seeing a lot of Tron bikes in race 3.
This race is full of strategic options thanks to the course layout and WTRL’s points structure.
Intermediate points are available at these locations on Innbruck KOM After Party:
- First-Across-the-Line (FAL) Intermediates:
- Innsbruck Sprint 3x
- Innsbruck KOM 1x
- Fastest-Through-Segment (FTS) Intermediates:
- Innsbruck Sprint 1x
- Innsbruck KOM 1x
Additionally, each arch will distribute an equal number of the following powerups: Helmet, Van, Feather. Riders will receive 7 different powerups over the course of their race thanks to the Sprint and Start/Finish arches on the Innsbruckring portion of the route. Make sure you know how each powerup works, and use them wisely!
The Leg Snapper rewards riders with high 1-minute power, and those riders will be doubly rewarded with a chance at FAL sprint points on each lap. Expect to see big attacks up the Leg Snapper, especially on the first lap as the strongest riders push to make the first big selection and better their chances at grabbing those intermediate sprint points.
Sprinters who don’t fancy their chances at a final KOM victory will also be pushing hard up the Leg Snapper, in hopes of staying in contention for those sprint points. In fact, one could argue that sprinters have a lot more skin in the game on the Leg Snapper climb, because the sprint sections will be their only chance at intermediate points.
It’s quite possible that the front group of riders will see no reason to push hard once the sprint ends, allowing chasing groups to rejoin. Why keep pushing, when you know you’ll drop the riders again on the KOM? Expect to see groups blobbing back together, only to get split apart again the next time up the Leg Snapper.
But make no mistake: the strongest climbers will be saving themselves for the final KOM effort, since the first riders to the top will receive not only finishing points, but FAL (and probably FTS) intermediate points! That’s a lot of potential points. If the first rider across the line also manages to get the fastest KOM time they will receive a total of 70 points (40 finishing points plus 10 FAL and 20 FTS points), not including any sprint segment points they may have already earned.
A cagey climber might be smart to begin the KOM segment as far back in the group as possible, then working their way to the front for the finish. This would allow them to use the draft benefit of the group on the climb, while completing the segment faster than those who started ahead of them.
Care to share your thoughts about this upcoming race? Are you looking forward to it, or dreading it? Comment below!